Faculty Research & Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2005


Children’s Literature of the Harlem Renaissance is a timely addition to schol-arship on both African American literature and children’s literatureof the early twentieth century. The scope of Katharine Capshaw Smith’swork makes it a particularly welcome follow-up to DonnaRaeMacCann’s award-winning White Supremacy in Children’s Literature(Routledge 1998), which focused on the relationship of African Ameri-can children to mainstream children’s literature from 1830 to 1900.Dr. Smith moves us to the next stage, focusing on the emergence ofan African American children’s literature in the first half of the twen-tieth century. Smith looks at major players in African Americanchildren’s literature in roughly chronological order, starting with theCrisis magazine “Children’s Numbers” of the 1910s and ending withArna Bontemps’s publication of The Lonesome Boy in 1954. Character-izing her own work as “a recovery effort,” Smith argues that “[n]eglectof children’s literature has prevented scholars of the New Negro Re-naissance from documenting the cultural movement in full” (xxiii),and that “[t]hrough plays, pageants, magazine pieces, dialect poems,picture books, poetry collections, anthologies, biographies, and nov-els, New Negro writers famous and obscure asserted their commit-ment to childhood as a means of cultural production” (xxiii).


This open access article is also available at http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/childrens_literature/v033/33.1kory.pdf