#BlackIsBeautiful: The Black Crayon

The Black Crayon

Written by Andrew Vassall

Illustrated by Unc Jon

Published by First Edition Design Publishing

  • ISBN-10 : 1506906958
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1506906959

This unusual picture book is told from the perspective of a black crayon, who feels unloved as each of the other crayons are used except him.   As he watches children make drawings with his friends, his feelings of loneliness and unwantedness increase, until a young Black girl seeks him out specifically, and repeatedly, to draw some of the things that she loves most.  The black crayon’s happiness at finally being seen and feeling valued is touching to see.  The story also serves as an excellent conversation starter about the stigma around the color black, which can also be tied into conversations around self worth.  The book counters said stigma with a list of the ways that black is not just beautiful, but an integral part of the color spectrum.

Annelisa J. Purdie is a senior children’s librarian with the New York Public Library.  She graduated with her MLIS degree from St. John’s University, and works in Harlem.  Her work includes an emphasis on history, STEM and the arts as a means of sparking innovation and establishing a sense of pride among members of the community.  Annelisa coordinates interactive children’s programs and literacy initiatives, and works with educators and various other community partners in servicing the children of New York City.  

The February 2021 GLLI theme, #BlackIsBeautiful, is curated by guest editor, Shauntee Burns-Simpson.

Shauntee Burns-Simpson

Shauntee Burns-Simpson (MLIS) currently serves as the 2020-2022 President of BCALA. She is the Associate Director of School Outreach for The New York Public Library. An ambassador for libraries and Youth Librarian, President Burns-Simpson enjoys connecting people to the public library and its resources. She works closely with at-risk teens and fosters a love of reading & learning with her innovative programs. In addition to leading BCALA, she chairs the American Library Association Office of Diversity, Literacy, & Outreach Services (ODLOS) Committee on Diversity.

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