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A new exhibition that is slated to open at the Miami University Art Museum and Sculpture Park this month will highlight African-American children’s literature, the Dayton Daily News reported.

The exhibition—dubbed Telling A People’s Story: African-American Children’s Illustrated Literature—will examine Black history and culture through a collection of illustrated books. The collection will feature more than 100 pieces of imagery created by notable African-American illustrators that include E.B. Lewis, Ashley Bryan, Jan Spivey-Gilchrist, Kadir Nelson and others. The images were chosen from 90 children’s books which will be displayed alongside the pieces of art.

“We are doing something positive. We’re doing something that is bringing attention to a world of multi-culturalism in a specific area that has been long neglected for attention,” Jason Shaiman, curator of exhibitions, Miami University Art Museum, told the Dayton Daily News. “We felt that because this is an art exhibit, the artwork needed to come from the visualization of African-American illustrators, and as often as we could, books that were written by African Americans.”

Initially, there were 600 books that were going to be featured, but Shaiman and his team narrowed down the collection. The exhibition will take viewers through a chronological journey of Black history, displaying illustrations and children’s books that are centered on everything from slavery to the Civil Rights era. Parts of the exhibition will also highlight the innovations created by African-Americans in efforts to show more than an oppressive narrative and pay homage to Black influencers.

“This is the first time any museum has ever attempted an exhibition of this nature. No one else has ventured to create an exhibit focused on African-American identity using children’s literature and the pictures,” Shaiman said. An exhibition like this holds a significant amount of importance with the current state of race relations in America today, he added.

Telling A People’s Story: African-American Children’s Illustrated Literature is slated to open on January 30 and will be on display through June 30. This exhibition will serve as yet another platform to give children of color the opportunity to see themselves reflected in literature. A 17-year-old Memphis-based entrepreneur recently created a monthly subscription box that includes books that are written by Black authors and have African-American protagonists to promote reading among African American children.


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