For young Black book lovers, it can be tough to find books that reflect the readers and their worlds. In 2018, the local nonprofit Young, Black & Lit took it upon itself to make sure that Black children have plenty of options for their bookshelves.
“I started the organization because I felt like my niece was not having enough books that featured little Black girls, and I was disheartened by that,” said Krenice Ramsey, Young, Black & Lit co-founder. “My absolute favorite part is to see the kids come to our table and just start scanning the book. Sometimes you’ll see, ‘Oh, that girl looks like me,’ and she might have her hair styled in a certain way, and she’s like, ‘Oh, interesting,’ and pick it up, right? We get really energized by that interaction with the children because they really are, Black and non-Black children, really are interacting with the books and you see them excited to find things that they’re interested in.”
At an event Feb. 15, the organization donated books centered on Black characters to Evanston’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School. The nonprofit also launched the Young, Black & Lit Future Authors contest, which will publish the work of 10 youth writers of color in an anthology of short stories. The organization is partnering with JoFactor Entertainment, which is donating the publishing costs for the book.
“Black storytelling is a huge part of our culture,” Ramsey said, “and so we wanted to make sure we gave younger writers the opportunity to share their stories.”