The Best of the Brownies' Book

Overview


In January 1920 a new monthly magazine was born, created especially for young people the editors called "the Children of the Sun." W.E.B. Du Bois, a professor and writer who was one of the founders of the NAACP, was publisher and editor. Augustus Granville Dill, a former professor of social sciences at Atlanta University, was the business manager. Jessie Redmon Fauset, author and mentor to other African-American writers, was the literary editor. Their magazine was The Brownies' Book and its readers were the ...
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Overview


In January 1920 a new monthly magazine was born, created especially for young people the editors called "the Children of the Sun." W.E.B. Du Bois, a professor and writer who was one of the founders of the NAACP, was publisher and editor. Augustus Granville Dill, a former professor of social sciences at Atlanta University, was the business manager. Jessie Redmon Fauset, author and mentor to other African-American writers, was the literary editor. Their magazine was The Brownies' Book and its readers were the African-American young people of the 1920s.
Few children's magazines, movies, school books, or picture books in the 1920s portrayed black people at all, or if they did it was only in minor and unimportant positions. The Brownies' Book gave African-American children an opportunity to see that the history and achievements of black people in America were essential and worth knowing about. The magazine was interesting and fun, with stories, poetry, biographies of famous black Americans, reports on international cultures, articles about the accomplishments of young people from all over the country, and photographs and beautiful artwork created by African-American artists.
This anthology of selections from the 24 issues of The Brownies' Book is as important and entertaining for today's young people as it was 75 years ago. There are wonderful stories and poems by people such as Langston Hughes, who was a teenage contributor, Nella Larsen Imes, and other writers and artists who addressed the intellects and spirits of African-American children and young adults. There are selections from "The Judge," a column written by Jessie Fauset that addressed all sorts of issues--parents, good behavior, friends, school work, and much more, and another column called "The Jury" that featured letters from young readers. There's even "The Grown-Ups' Corner" with letters and comments from parents. And young people and adults alike will be charmed and fascinated by the facsimile of the April 1921 issue that is included at the close of the book.
These lively and entertaining pieces paint a vivid picture of what life was like for young African Americans in the early 20th century, and address issues that are still important to children of all races today. The Brownies' Book was created especially for African-American children, but the editors wanted it "to teach Universal Love and Brotherhood for all little folk--black and brown and yellow and white." Isn't that what we want for our children today?

Stories and articles from the 1920s children's magazine "The Brownies' Book" capture the Afro-American experience.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-The Brownies' Book was a literary magazine for African American children and their parents, published from January, 1920 through December, 1921 by W. E. B. DuBois. It was filled with poetry, prose, biographies, and art and letters from readers. Its intention was to give the "Children of the Sun" a better sense of their own self-worth and, as one reader put it, "race love and race pride." Johnson-Feelings has taken excerpts from this serial and given a fair representation of its individual components. In addition, she has added thoughtful critical analysis in both the preface and the afterword. This is a well-done book that presents a remarkable piece of historical children's literature. The question here is not one of quality, but of audience. It certainly fills an embarrassingly gaping hole; however, while the poems (mostly by Langston Hughes) and biographies are fine for today's young readers, the prose may be unpalatable to minds used to modern writing. It is only natural for the language to be old-fashioned and, as is typical of "wholesome" literature from the time, the arch moral tone of the various writers is almost past bearing. However, children who can stand Louisa May Alcott can certainly manage this. The best audience, however, will be students of children's literature and general adult readers.Patricia A. Dollisch, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Dianne Johnson-Feelings is Associate Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, specializing in children's, young adult, and African-American literature. She is the author of Telling Tales: The Pedagogy and Promise of African American Literature for Youth.

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