April 2020 Staff Picks


In the 1920s, Black artists, musicians, dancers, writers, and thinkers had settled into Harlem after the Great Migration and built a community where they could congregate and create. While Harlem is considered the epicenter of this prolific movement, other cities around the country saw their own related scenes spring from the ground up, and the innovations of those involved impacted the whole world.

Teaching the Harlem Renaissance is a collection of resources that span age ranges from pre-K-12 and beyond. The spirit of change, the fight towards equity championed by people across fields of expertise, and the closeness of it all to our city’s history is crucial for our classrooms. The NYC DOE reports that 25.5% of all students in the city’s public schools are Black. However, according to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, 50% of protagonists in all children’s books published in 2018 were white. Connecting learners of all ages to stories of compelling Black leaders can help kids (and adults, too) see themselves and their peers in a more positive light. We owe it to our students to contextualize this legacy of change-making and encourage them to find their place in it. The Harlem Renaissance centered around bringing Black American identities to the forefront of the collective consciousness. This can - and must - still be honored today, 100 years later.

This collection contains primary sources, biographies, historical fiction, and collections of essays, poetry, and visual art. While many are physical materials, ebooks and other digital sources are also represented.

Click on the books below to get access to our library's e-books.

Also be sure to visit Classics of the Harlem Renaissance, a complimentary display that celebrates literature of the era as key to understanding not only African American history and culture, but the Harlem Renaissance as a significant step towards the American ideal of freedom and opportunity.