The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem's Greatest Bookstore

by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and R. Gregory Christie

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson revisits the topic of Lewis Michaux and the National Memorial... read more

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson revisits the topic of Lewis Michaux and the National Memorial African Bookstore that was the subject of her singular young adult novel No Crystal Stair, here introducing her great uncle and his Harlem store in a picture book told in the engaging fictionalized voice of Lewis Michaux’s son. Young Louie shares the history of the store, for which his father could not get a bank loan to open because the banker believed “Black people don’t read.” And he shares a sense of the vibrant, vivid gathering place the store is: a place of activism and action with its “zillion books” by Black people—African Americans, Africans—and others who aren’t white, with its many visitors from the famous (Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X) to the anonymous (the boy who spends every Saturday reading at the store), and with its readings and rallies. Read to learn, his father tells him, and to learn how “to figure out for yourself what is true.” In the aftermath of Malcolm X’s death, Louie is comforted by his father’s reminder that “His words will never leave us.” And Louie thinks about the importance of words, and the importance of their bookstore as a place to find them in this picture book strikingly illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Nelson tells more about the store, which closed in 1975, and her personal connection in end material that includes photographs and a bibliography. (Age 8 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2016

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