Like many libraries across Bloomfield Hills Schools, Eastover Elementary is celebrating Black History Month with a large display of books by Black authors and with Black characters. “My goal is to get all kids to read about really important figures in our history who are sometimes overlooked or not understood,” explained Eastover Librarian Cindy Livingston. “They come up to this wall with the book covers on display so they can either go grab the actual book or just see and celebrate Black characters, Black love, and Black identity.”
The Eastover library has a wide variety of diverse books, from easy readers, to biographies, to contemporary fiction. The books featured for Black History month involve everything from famous 1800s scientist George Washington Carver to recent Olympic champion Simone Biles. In addition, there are books on display about the Black experience. For example, the book “Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut” displays lively drawings and language about a Black child’s experience at the barbershop. “It’s also about identifying with the story,” said Livingston. “I just read a couple of pages. All of a sudden the hands will shoot up, and the students will want to check it out.”
Eastover student Angelina Mansour chose just such books during a recent trip to the Eastover library. “It looked really good on the cover,” said Mansour of the book “Thank You Omu” which relates to a tale of a Black grandmother cooking for a neighborhood. Omu is the Igbo word for queen, and the author’s family used that name for their grandmother. Mansour also selected the book “Noodle Magic” which has Asian cultural themes and details Mei and Grandpa Tu preparing to make noodles for the emperor's upcoming birthday. “I love the pictures and the words!” said Mansour of the book choices.
“In everything I do, I have in mind windows, mirrors, and doors,” said Livingston. “Books are mirrors in which we see ourselves, which is important because I want all of the students to see themselves in the library and in the literature. Books are windows where they can look through to another country or space, or culture to identify what things are the same and what may be different. And books are doors, so the students can walk through and experience new worlds of understanding.”