From September 1-30, visitors to Galesburg Public Library may visit the Eila Hiler Room (otherwise known as “the storytime room”) to experience Telling A People’s Story: African-American Children’s Illustrated Literature. This traveling panel art exhibit, the first major museum exhibition of its kind, takes visitors through a chronological journey of Black history, displaying illustrations from over 90 children’s books that are centered on everything from slavery to the Civil Rights era to modern life.
The Miami University Art Museum curated the original exhibit in 2018. Thanks to a generous grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation in Cleveland, OH, the Miami University Art Museum offers this traveling version to share with schools, public libraries and other educational institutions.
The 12-panel exhibition features more than 130 pieces of art produced for book illustrations by over 30 artists, including Caldecott medalists and honorees like John Steptoe, Leo and Diane Dillon, Javaka Steptoe, Jerry Pinkney and Kadir Nelson. Some of our favorites include:
A Sweet Smell of Roses, written by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Eric Velasquez. Inspired by the countless young people who took a stand against the forces of injustice, this picture book offers a glimpse of youth involvement in the Civil Rights movement.
Heart and Soul: The Story of American and African Americans, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. This simple introduction to African-American history traces events from Revolutionary-era slavery up to the election of President Obama.
Ron’s Big Mission, written by Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden, illustrated by Don Tate. One summer day in 1959, nine-year-old Ron McNair, who dreams of becoming a pilot, walks into the Lake City, South Carolina, public library and insists on checking out some books, despite the rule that only white people can have library cards.
Telling A People’s Story is on display in the library’s Eila Hiler Room from September 1 through 30, and is open to the public Monday-Thursday from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM, and Friday and Saturday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Visitors of all ages are invited to explore the exhibit. Copies of many of the books featured in the exhibit will be available for checkout and onsite reading, and visitors will have the opportunity to participate in self-guided interactive activities.