When I found out that I was pregnant with Little L, one of the things I was most excited about was reading stories with her. I remember wobbling through Barnes & Noble at the mall full of excitement about having a reason to be in the kids section again. Nostalgia swept over me as I remembered how much I Ioved going to bookstores as a little kid. Images of Goosebumps, Fear Street, The Babysitters’ Club, too many V.C. Andrews books to count (although not exactly child appropriate but I loved them), and so many other books that I can’t remember off the top of my head came to mind. But of course, out of all of the other books, it was something about the Harry Potter series that made a sista reserve a copy of the latest one at the Oak Park Border’s and ride her bike through both the hood and suburb up there to get it. Growing up, books just gave me life and saved my life in so many ways and I couldn’t wait to share a love of reading with my own daughter.
At our most recent trip to the library (because I hardly ever actually buy books anymore), I stumbled on a book about Malcolm X as a child. It’s called Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X and it’s actually written by one of his 6 daughters, Ilyasah Shabazz. The cover jumped out at me because I love Malcolm X. I love his passion, intelligence, and the fact that without his efforts my life would probably be a whole lot different than it is today. Plus, I think his picture should be next to the words “handsome” and “swagger” in the dictionary 😉 I couldn’t wait to read this book, which makes it clear that I choose kids’ books that are really for me instead of the little one!
Malcolm Little is a beautiful book. I mean that literally. The illustrations are reasons enough for me to recommend this one to all the parents out there, to anyone who likes children’s lit, or simply to anyone who is a Malcolm X fan. Also, it’s full of positivity and reiterates over and over again the importance of universal equality, justice, self-reliance, and love. It really communicates the environment of love and strong values that Malcolm grew up in despite the racial hatred that his family endured from the world outside of their home. Despite the heartbreaking things that happen to Malcolm, the book manages to stay hopeful. However, I wish the encouraging messages were a bit more subtle at times, but it is geared towards 1st through 5th graders after all. They would need things to be made a bit more plain for them. I also feel that there are so many questions that the book leaves me with about Malcolm’s upbringing and personal tragedies that this book could’ve been a series instead of just one book, but I guess there are plenty of other biographies of Malcolm X for both children and adults out there looking for more details.
This book touched me on many levels beyond the text. Among other things, it highlights the importance of strong, nurturing family relationships and the importance of keeping the memories of our deceased relatives alive through the uplifting and comical stories that we tell about them. Ilyasah Shabazz was only 2 years old when her father was assassinated in front of her so it was the stories told by her mother, aunts, uncles, and cousins that introduced her to her father on a personal level outside of the textbook and media versions of him. I hope to take this example and conjure up as many positive memories of my father and other deceased loved ones that I can to share with Little L one day.
What are you all reading? Do you think you will read or recommend Malcolm Little to a child you know. Let me know on Facebook or in the comments below. Stay poppin’ 😉