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A Centennial Celebration of The Brownies’ Book

A Centennial Celebration of The Brownies’ Book

Edited by Dianne Johnson-Feelings & Jonda C. McNair
Foreword by Rudine Sims Bishop
Series: Children's Literature Association Series

Hardcover : 9781496841230, 182 pages, 73 b&w illustrations, October 2022
Paperback : 9781496841247, 182 pages, 73 b&w illustrations, October 2022

A celebration of the beloved and consequential children’s magazine


Contributions by Jani L. Barker, Rudine Sims Bishop, Julia S. Charles-Linen, Paige Gray, Dianne Johnson-Feelings, Jonda C. McNair, Sara C. VanderHaagen, and Michelle Taylor Watts

The Brownies’ Book occupies a special place in the history of African American children’s literature. Informally the children’s counterpart to the NAACP’s The Crisis magazine, it was one of the first periodicals created primarily for Black youth. Several of the objectives the creators delineated in 1919 when announcing the arrival of the publication—“To make them familiar with the history and achievements of the Negro race” and “To make colored children realize that being ‘colored’ is a beautiful, normal thing”—still resonate with contemporary creators, readers, and scholars of African American children’s literature.

The meticulously researched essays in A Centennial Celebration of "The Brownies’ Book" get to the heart of The Brownies’ Book “project” using critical approaches both varied and illuminating. Contributors to the volume explore the underappreciated role of Jessie Redmon Fauset in creating The Brownies’ Book and in the cultural life of Black America; describe the young people who immersed themselves in the pages of the periodical; focus on the role of Black heroes and heroines; address The Brownies’ Book in the context of critical literacy theory; and place The Brownies’ Book within the context of Black futurity and justice. Bookending the essays are, reprinted in full, the first and last issues of the magazine.

A Centennial Celebration of "The Brownies’ Book" illuminates the many ways in which the magazine—simultaneously beautiful, complicated, problematic, and inspiring—remains worthy of attention well into this century.


"A Centennial Celebration of ‘The Brownies’ Book’ is an important contribution to the analysis and appreciation of the landmark children’s magazine. As a celebratory volume, the insightful and beautifully phrased collection emphasizes the ethos of uplift and joy promoted by the magazine."

- Katharine Capshaw, author of Civil Rights Childhood: Picturing Liberation in African American Photobooks

"A Centennial Celebration of ‘The Brownies’ Book’ provides an important, celebratory context for the activist, antiracist, and joyful efforts manifested in The Brownies’ Book. A timely and essential publication."

- Cherene Sherrard-Johnson, author of Dorothy West's Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color

"This rich volume is a celebration, indeed! . . . Revelatory and illuminating, this is a must-purchase."

- Jen McConnel, School Library Journal