Black children need to see Black authors are out there

Danielle Norris

Love of Literature is Canada’s only non-profit book club for Black youth. With a mission to educate, inspire and empower, the club is running a six-week virtual summer program to connect Black students with books that feature and celebrate Black culture.

There are over 100 kids and teenagers, from ages 7 to 18, signed up for the book club this year.

Danielle Norris is the founder of Love of Literature., which was started in 2017.

“I recognized the need for it, it was definitely important for us to focus on books with Black characters. We basically branched out and we began to expand to include more kids as the year progressed.

Now that we’re at the state where we are virtual, the program has really grown. We used to really focus on just kids from the Brampton and Mississauga area, but now we’ve expanded across the GTA. We’ve got students out in Shelburne, we have a couple of kids from Alberta, Nova Scotia, a few in the U.S. and one in the U.K.,”  Norris said at recent interview.

“I grew up in Brampton, in the Peel Region. It’s an interesting fact to recognize that there weren’t really a lot of diverse books when I was a kid growing up. And there wasn’t much of a change when my kids have gone through the system as well. It’s a bit troubling. 

There weren’t a lot of opportunities for kids to have access to these books. The only time that you could find them is when it comes around Black History Month. I recognized that and asked parents to ask kids, “Do you have any programs at your school that are there to celebrate and uplift Black students?” And unfortunately, that’s not the reality for a lot of our kids.”

The program is a virtual platform that and is scheduled for six Saturdays, one-hour sessions. The families register online, and receive a the books by mail.  hey also receive a reading schedule. They log on for our book club hour and connect with other facilitators who are also Black educators.  They help participants us go through different sections of the book in chunks in order to get through the session.

“One really good example we have,” Norris said,  “is the award-winning author Jerry Craft, he created a graphic novel called New Kid and a follow up called Class Act. A majority of our kids will be reading this book. It’s really funny so I think all kids will will be able to enjoy this book.

This author is going to be joining us for one of the sessions, so he’ll be there to talk to the students and answer questions. We’re trying to make students see these authors. They need to see that Black authors are out there and that they exist. And when they share their stories, they also help to inspire the students.”

“They need to see that Black authors are out there and that they exist. And when they share their stories, they also help to inspire the students.”