President George W. Bush proclaimed June as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, making it a national holiday in 2006. However, this holiday was founded by Dr. Claire Nelson and celebrated by the Institute of Caribbean Studies in 2000. Find a list of books about celebrating the history, contributions, and culture of Caribbean-American people below!
Big Tune: Rise of the Dancehall Prince by Alliah L. Agostini; illustrated by Shamar Knight-Justice
On Sale Now!
An exuberant picture book written by Alliah L. Agostini and illustrated by Shamar Knight-Justice is about a Black boy with big dancing dreams who learns the meaning of courage and community.
It’s the weekend, first in June; speaker’s blasting out big tune!
Cousins, aunties, uncles, friends pack the house, and fun begins.
Shane is shy but loves to dance—and all year long, he’s picked up cans
to earn some money toward his goal: high-tops with a pump-up sole.
But then the speaker blows—it’s done! Will this stop his family’s fun?
Can Shane come through to save the day and bring back Big Tune Saturday?
Set within a vibrant Caribbean American neighborhood and told to a rhythmic beat, Big Tune is a story of Black boy joy that touches on determination, confidence to express who you are, selflessness, and community gratitude.
Praise for Big Tune:
“This lively, vibrant narrative has an infectious spirit, and Shane is irresistible. Grounded in a tightknit Jamaican American community, the story deftly incorporates visual and textual references to dance styles, food, and other cultural touchstones… Themes of joy, solidarity, and artistic expression are effortlessly woven throughout the words and images… An exuberant celebration of community that leaps off the page.” —Kirkus, starred review
“Portrayals of diasporic Caribbean culture and a child’s selflessness distinguish Agostini’s 1990s Brooklyn-set story celebrating connection and community… Agostini’s buoyant rhyming verse pulses with details, and Knight-Justice’s stylized illustrations layer bold patterns and textures with typewritten text, sheet music, and images of the Jamaican flag, building a joyfully immersive portrait of neighborhood gatherings where ‘Swaying hips wine fast and slow./ Brown skin shines with black light’s glow.'” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
Granny’s Kitchen: A Jamaican Story of Food and Family by Sadé Smith; illustrated by Ken Daley
On Sale Now!
Accompanied by Ken Daley’s vibrant, sun-soaked artwork, Sadé Smith’s debut picture book Granny’s Kitchen is the perfect readaloud for budding chefs everywhere.
Shelly-Ann lives with her Granny on the beautiful island of Jamaica. When Shelly-Ann becomes hungry, she asks her Granny for something to eat. Granny tells her “Gyal, you betta can cook!” and teaches Shelly-Ann how to get in touch with her Jamaican roots through the process of cooking.
As Shelly-Ann tries each recipe, everything goes wrong. But when Granny is too tired to cook one morning, Shelly-Ann will have to find the courage to try one more time and prepare the perfect Jamaican breakfast.
Praise for Granny’s Kitchen:
“Warm and inviting. Daley’s vibrant, highly saturated illustrations bolster the appeal and are sure to entice young readers—and perhaps encourage them to try their own hand in the kitchen. … A vibrant, upbeat story of a determined girl and her love of food.” —Kirkus
Julie and the Mango Tree by Sadé Smith; illustrated by Sayada Ramdial
On Sale 8/8/2023
Coupled with Sayada Ramdial’s bright and colorful artwork, Julie and the Mango Tree by Sadé Smith will have readers of all ages giggling—and craving a mango of their own!
Julie loves all kinds of fruit, but mangoes are her absolute favorite. One sticky summer afternoon, Julie goes to the big mango tree in her yard to ask for a snack.
But no matter how nicely she asks or how patient she tries to be, the tree just won’t drop a single sweet, juicy mango! Will Julie ever be able to convince the tree to let her have just a taste of her favorite treat?
I Want to Ride the Tap Tap by Danielle Joseph; illustrated by Olivier Ganthier
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Writer Danielle Joseph and illustrator Olivier Ganthier’s I Want to Ride the Tap Tap is a day-of-the-week picture book about a Black family who ride the taxi-bus service—called a tap tap—in Haiti, and the fascinating people they meet along the way, illustrated by a Haitian artist known for his vibrant street art.
Monday through Saturday, Claude and Manman walk Papa to the tap tap stop, where Claude meets all sorts of interesting people waiting for the tap tap. Claude wants to join Papa, but Claude has classes at school and chores at home…
On Sunday, Manman and Papa have a surprise for Claude—a ride on the tap tap! They go to the beach, where they meet a lady selling mangoes, a fisherman, a straw-hat maker, a steel drummer, and an artist. They show Claude how to fish, make hats, play the drums, and paint.
With Haitian Creole words sprinkled throughout and a glossary at the end, I Want to Ride the Tap Tap is a warm and lively portrayal of everyday life in Haiti.
Praise for I Want to Ride the Tap Tap:
“This bright book about a Haitian child’s special outing will have everyone wanting to ride the tap tap … Every young reader will resonate with Claude’s happy day. Bon bagay!” — Kirkus
Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas
On Sale Now!
By Adrianna Cuevas, author of 2021 Pura Belpré Honor Book The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, comes a sweeping, emotional middle grade historical novel about a twelve-year-old boy who leaves his family in Cuba to immigrate to the U.S. by himself, based on the author’s own family history.
“I don’t remember. Tell me everything, Pepito. Tell me about Cuba.”
When the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 solidifies Castro’s power in Cuba, twelve-year-old Cumba’s family makes the difficult decision to send him to Florida alone. Faced with the prospect of living in another country by himself, Cumba tries to remember the sound of his father’s clarinet, the smell of his mother’s lavender perfume.
Life in the United States presents a whole new set of challenges. Lost in a sea of English speakers, Cumba has to navigate a new city, a new school, and new freedom all on his own. With each day, Cumba feels more confident in his new surroundings, but he continues to wonder: Will his family ever be whole again? Or will they remain just out of reach, ninety miles across the sea?
Praise for Cuba in My Pocket:
“Inspired by stories from her father’s childhood, Cuevas’ latest is a triumph of the heart…A compassionate, emotionally astute portrait of a young Cuban in exile.” — Kirkus, Starred Review
“Cuevas’ intense and immersive account of a Cuban boy’s experience after the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion brings a specific point in history alive … Drawing from her father’s boyhood experiences, Cuevas does an outstanding job of eliciting the confusing array of emotions Cumba feels as he is thrown into life in a new country.” —Booklist, Starred Review
“Cuevas packs this sophomore novel with palpable emotions and themes of friendship, love, longing, and trauma, attentively conveying tumultuous historical events from the lens of one young refugee.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review