Welcome to Black History Month! The theme of this year’s annual celebration is Black Resistance, an acknowledgement of the continued fight against historic and on-going oppression. Join the Free Library to celebrate Black resistance and resilience with the young learners in your life. Read on to discover new ways to listen, learn, and share this nation’s Black past, present, and future.
World Read Aloud Day, February 1st
Did you know that the first Wednesday of February is World Read Aloud Day? Reading aloud helps build literacy and learning skills at any age, but it’s especially important for those who are still learning to read. Plus, it’s fun for the whole family! If you’d like to celebrate in the spirit of Black History Month, check out these lists of titles available in our catalog.
Black History Month Virtual Activity Adventure
Honor the contributions of Black Philadelphians by learning about activists, doctors, artists, scholars, entrepreneurs, politicians, musicians, and others who led the way and changed our world. Read and listen to stories that celebrate Black heritage. Share in a celebration of legendary individuals and everyday heroes! This Black History Month activity adventure is part of the Online Winter Reading Challenge, open to all ages. To join, sign up online.
At Your Library:
Read on for highlighted events geared toward children, teens, and families. For a full listing of Free Library programs and events held in honor of Black History Month, visit the Free Library's Black History Month homepage.
Black History Storytimes with Read, Baby, Read
Read, Baby, Read joyfully celebrates Black History Month with stories and songs from the African diaspora for babies, toddlers, and families. Their variety of baby-focused programs are thoughtfully crafted with infants, young toddlers, and their caregivers in mind. Older siblings are welcome to join. Find their full schedule of programs and locations on the Free Library’s events calendar. Look forward to more themed programming from Read, Baby, Read in the months ahead!
Black Women Innovators with LEAP Afterschool
School-aged library patrons can explore the history of Black women who pioneered modern innovation and tinker with the mechanics behind their most notable achievements with LEAP! Whether it's creating their own 3-D images like NASA analyst Valerie Thomas, or exploring the fusion of gospel, blues and electronic instruments like the Godmother of Rock and Roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, LEAP offers a variety of hands-on activities sure to keep school-aged kids and teens engaged with Black History.
Black Women Innovators activities will run from Monday, February 13th through Friday, February 24th. Program dates vary by location. Find details on the Free Library events calendar, or contact your local library to learn more.
Virtual Sundays on Stage
These family programs celebrate diversity through music, dance, storytelling, and more. Celebrate Black history with three special performances from Virtual Sundays on Stage.
When a child tells his aunt about a bully on his bus, she gives him advice by recounting the tale of Rosa Parks and the events that led to a revolution in racial justice. This poignant Yearning to Learn production includes many songs of the Civil Rights era and brings this historical time to life, while speaking to how individuals can work together to fight injustice and oppression.
Speak Up! uses the percussive dance styles of tap dance, stepping, and body percussion to narrate iconic moments of life and legacy of John Lewis, like the1960 Lunch Counter Sit-ins, the 1961 Freedom Riders, and the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March. Be inspired by John Lewis’ commitment to civil rights and equality, through a performance that assists in preserving Black History and Art.
Celebrate Tell a Fairy Tale Day by joining us for a selection of stories from fourth generation storyteller, author, and educator Lyn Ford. Rooted in her family’s multicultural Affrilachian (African-American Appalachian) heritage and a love of stories, Ford’s tales are full of rhythm and rhyme, humor and heart, and much more.
All Virtual Sundays on Stage performances will be featured live on Zoom, and then available for viewing for five days.
Listen to the stories of artists involved in the Free Library’s past month’s exhibit, Chronicling Resistance. The project uses research-inspired interactive art and multimedia exhibits to counter the erasure of Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ people from the historical record, break silences, and uncover new ways of understanding and enacting resistance. This is a great experience for curious teens! While the in-person exhibit has come to a close, you can still hear these artists speak about the origins of their passion and their processes in this fabulous collection of Youtube interviews.
Cooking with the Culinary Literacy Center
Get cooking with the Free Library! Many events at the Culinary Literacy Center are a perfect fit for adults and teens. To celebrate Black History Month, check out Soul Food Cooking with a Twist on Saturday, February 4 at 12:00 P.M. This free program led by Chef Yuhnis Sydnor from Sugga Mamas Diabetes Prevention and Management will explore new twists, turns, and tastes for your favorite soul food dishes. Register online.
This year’s Black History Month showcase from Author Events will feature programs for the younger crowd. Friends ages 4 to 8 are welcome to join Children’s Storyteller Thembi Palmer for a free event at the Queen Memorial Library as she debuts her interactive movement adventure, “This Book May Make You Do Things!” Both Ibram X. Kendi and Heather McGee have adapted recent works for young readers. Young adults are invited to two ticketed Author Events featuring reading and discussion — of Kendi’s How to be a (Young) Antiracist, and of McGee’s The Sum of Us: How Racism Hurts Everyone.
African American Children’s Bookfair — Philadelphia Convention Center
Saturday, February 11 from 1-4 P.M.
Now in its 31st year, this is an event not to be missed. This free and open to the public bookfair is a celebration of African American authors and illustrators, and the young readers who love their books! Bring your family to meet award-winning children’s book creators and hear them read from their work. The fair also hosts storytellers, art-making stations, allied organizations, and resources. Free Library Youth Services will be in attendance, and we hope to see you there! Visit their website to learn more.
African American Museum of Philadelphia
Visit the first museum built by a major city to “preserve, interpret, and exhibit the heritage of African Americans.” Experience Through His Eyes: Youth Activism in Philadelphia’s Civil Rights Era, a free online exhibit of photographs that explores Philadelphia’s often overlooked civil rights activists: Black youth. Also offered for free online is Rendering Justice, a powerful examination of mass incarceration and its consequences, with a focus on Philadelphia. In-person visitors can explore the museum’s permanent collection and meander through their latest installment, Vision & Spirit: African American Art, on view through February 19. Composed of more than 100 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs and mixed-media works by 48 artists born in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the show focuses on these talented individuals’ strength and spirit. Visit the museum’s website for a full listing of exhibitions. The museum is a partner of the Art Reach and Access Card discount programs.
Museum of the American Revolution
Celebrate local Black history with a new exhibit from the Museum of the American Revolution. Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia will open on Saturday, February 11. Also featured in February are a Gallery Highlights Tour: Black Voices of the Revolution, pop-up discovery cart activities, and access to the virtual museum. Visit their Black History Month page to learn more about family friendly offerings. These are ticketed events. The museum is a partner of the Art Reach and Access Card discount programs.
If the kids and teens in your life prefer to do their own perusing of history, or you need to find that special gift, you might visit one of Philadelphia’s Black-owned bookstores! These spaces are not only valuable for their thoughtfully curated collections. They are also places to gather, meet new people, attend readings and events, take part in local culture, and grow community. This can be a wonderful experience for the whole family, especially if you have a book lover or two!
Wishing you a joyous and learning-filled Black History Month from all of us at Youth Services!