Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks help Barnes & Noble Celebrate Black History with Children

Lauren Winfrey/WAER News

  On a typical Syracuse Saturday Sydney Hutchinson-Mengel and her two-year-old son browse the children’s section of the local Barnes and Noble. Often just trying to keep his young mind stimulated, Hutchinson-Mengel makes it a point to visit the bookstore weekly. This Saturday, the voice of a narrator reading aloud was unexpected, but intriguing.

February is Black History month, and Barnes & Noble bookstores across the country are celebrating with a story time event featuring the stories of two prominent Black figures. Colleen Bland is the event coordinator and story book narrator.

“We had an event today celebrating black history month, and it was a really exciting event that happened at all of the Barnes & Nobles across the country at the same time,” explained Bland. “We chose two books this year, I am Rosa Parks and I am Jackie Robinson that shared a little bit of an experience of a small event that changed the world for everybody.”

The two books, I Am Rosa Parks and I Am Jackie Robinson are a part of a picture-book biography series by New York Times bestselling author BradMeltzer.

Credit Lauren Winfrey/WAER News
Barnes and Noble's Colleen Bland read aloud and had children color handouts about Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson.

  “What’s important is in each of the books, they talk about the difference between black and white and civil rights, but they also talk about how one small act can make a difference forever,” said Bland. So, what they really stress is that it’s not a fight, it’s not a war, it’s standing up for yourself in a way that’s both peaceful and sets an example for everybody else.”

Hutchinson-Mengel, who attended the reading with her young son, also finds value in the books’ message.

“I think that everybody should definitely know more black history, and I don’t think there’s enough in the schools. It’s certainly beneficial to everyone to know more of the history of this country, and to be thinking about where we’re at today, and where we want to be going,” said Hutchinson-Mengel.

February may serve as the official month for celebrating Black History, but there are books about important black figures and historical events that can be purchased and read throughout the year.  

Other Black History Month book selections

  Information about Barnes & Noble sponsored weekly story times and other events can be found here: Barnes and Noble, Dewitt.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.