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Elizabeth Nesbitt Collection @ Pitt: African Americans in Children's Literature

This guide identifies some of the 12,000+ resources available in the Nesbitt Collection. Comprised of children's literature and material related to the history of children and their books, collection items date from the 1600's through the present.

Black Characters in Children’s Literature

In considering the depiction of black children in children's literature, it is important to consider the era before the Black Arts movement, the Black Arts movement, and the era afterwards. The Black Arts Movement (1965-1975) was invigorating for many black authors who focused on children's literature. They focused on three main points, which mirrored those that were being preached to adults during the prevalent Civil Rights era. These three messages are the importance of Africa as a common root for all black people, the notion of understanding the history of the black person in the United States as it led to Civil Rights, and most importantly, the depiction of black people succeeding in society by dreaming, working hard, not being discouraged, and caring for one another. The children reading these works would not only be educated but also be instilled with a yearning to aim for a brighter future for themselves and for the black race.

About the Creator of the Page

Corina Andriescu graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in neuroscience and African American culture. She will continue her education in the Fall to become a pediatric physician. Corina hopes her work on this project will help her better connect to her future patient population- residentially segregated African American children. Recently, Corina has been selected as a finalist in an essay contest where she has expressed her desire to help patients struggling with cancers, specifically mesothelioma caused by asbestos, which is often found in residentially segregated neighborhoods (