Emancipating Caribbean Literature for Children

The following is a resurrection of a blog post published by our Editor-in-Chief a few years ago on her now defunct blog.

- August 1st is Emancipation Day in my homeland of Trinidad and Tobago. The annual observance is celebrated on the anniversary of the passing of the Emancipation Bill that ended chattel slavery in what was then the British Empire. On August 1st, 1985, Trinidad and Tobago became the first country in the world to declare a national holiday to commemorate the abolition of slavery.

One hundred and seventy-nine years have passed since the Emancipation Bill came into effect on August 1st, 1838. By comparison, 37 years have passed since the great Robert Nesta Marley, echoing the sentiments of the Jamaican Pan-Africanist orator, Marcus Garvey, penned the famous line of his 'Redemption Song':
Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
none but ourselves can free our minds.
As I think about what Emancipation Day means to the people of the Caribbean, I cannot help but …

[Interview] Ruth Behar: Finding Wholeness in the Age of Multicultural Childhoods

This interview comes out of an on-stage conversation I had with Richard Blanco at Books & Books in Miami on July 25, 2017. Richard Blanco is the fifth inaugural poet of the United States and the first Latino and openly gay man to be selected for this honor. I am fortunate to have been close friends with Richard for over twenty years and to have traveled together with him to Cuba three times. Together we run the Bridges to/from Cuba blog dedicated to telling untold and emotionally profound stories about the Cuban experience. I greatly appreciated Richard’s interview questions and decided to write out our exchange, so this conversation could be remembered.

- Richard Blanco: So Ruth, to get things going and add some context, give us a brief synopsis of Lucky Broken Girl in your own words. And, more importantly, tell us what inspired you to write it? What was the urgency?

Ruth Behar:Lucky Broken Girl is a book about a Cuban immigrant girl just arriving in New York, starting to find her…

Abundant, Not Redundant: Caribbean Kid Lit Wish List

I'm not one to focus on lack. Part of it is temperamental, part of it is having been raised on a solid Judeo-Christian diet of contentment. It's just makes me happier (and more productive) to focus on abundance.

As Editor-in-Chief of a Caribbean children's lit. ezine, one does a lot of reading, both the children's books themselves and what's been written about the books. I've been able to observe trends, to notice the themes and narratives that are redundant abundant in Caribbean kid lit, and also what's missing. I'm always getting requests from parents and teachers looking for Caribbean children's books on specific themes and subjects, and while I try my best, often there just aren't enough (or any) books to recommend within a specific topic area.

Recently I was doodling in a notepad and found myself making a wish list of themes we really need to see more of in Caribbean children's lit. I share the list below; it could certainly be usef…

September 2017— Special Issue: Love

Unlocked online content— Read a sample below.

Format— PDF $6.99  $3.99
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Beautiful original cover art by Children's Book Choice Award winner Alix Delinois, from Eight Days a Story of Haiti.


• Hopefully Ever After: What Love Means to Young Readers by Margarita Engle, the 2017-2019 USA Young People's Poet Laureate

• Caribbean Children's Literature: Where's the Love?: A Note from the Editor-in-Chief by Summer Edward


• Excerpt from in-progress YA novel, Man Up, by Trish Cooke, Kate Greenaway Medal Commended author of So Much

• Excerpt from Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste, Américas Award Commended author of The Jumbies


• Our Cook and Natural Dancing Partners: Two Poems from the CLiPPA (Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award) shortlisted book Dancing in the Rain by John Lyons


[Event] Tracey Baptiste in Conversation with Summer Edward

August 25th, 2017 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

On Friday August 25th, 2017, join us for a conversation with prospective Anansesem contributor Tracey Baptiste, an award-winning Trinbagonian children's author based in New Jersey, USA.

Tracey Baptiste dreamed of being an author since the age of three when she was given a book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. She is the author of the forthcoming middle grade novel Rise of the Jumbies, the sequel to The Jumbies, a creepy middle grade fairy tale set in the Caribbean which was a Junior Library Guild selection, a We Need Diverse Books “Must Read,” a New York Public Libraries Staff Pick, and a Bank Street Books Best of 2016. Her other 12 books for children include Angel's Grace and The Totally Gross History of Ancient Egypt. She volunteers with We Need Diverse Books, The Brown Bookshelf, and I Too Arts Collective. She is a faculty member in Lesley University’s Creative Writing MFA program teaching Writing for Young People, and runs the editorial compa…

[Book List] Caribbean Carnival in Books for Children

It's carnival season! Carnival, along with steel pan music, the traditional music of carnival, is one of the things our region is famous for. Although different islands have different carnival origin stories, carnival is a festival with both African and European origins.

Both during slavery and after Emancipation, black Africans who had been forced into slavery in the Caribbean preserved their cultural traditions. The slaves used African masquerade, music, dance and calinda (stick fighting) to celebrate the sugarcane harvest, poke fun at the European slave-holding class, portray their suffering, and even mock the institution of slavery. Slaves were allowed to leave the plantations at Christmastime to spend time with their families in the barrack yards. They used this time to practice their cultural traditions of dance, drumming and chanting. Slaves would dress up in costumes, parodying the elaborate masquerade balls (from which they were banned) staged by the slaveowners at Chris…