The passionate plea I gave during a recent National Book Club Conference panel on the state of black children’s books is one I’ve long made: that it’s high time Black parents embrace the idea that the most thoughtful, educational, beautiful gift one can give to kids is black children’s books. It’s a simple concept, really, but it still strikes some parents as an extravagant expenditure: who, after all, has $17.99 to spend on a picture book? My answer: the same people who have $20 to spend on a Visa gift card or a toy from Target. It’s that simple.

Someone at the conference took my simple answer to heart. Big time. After the panel, she pulled me aside and, with my words ringing in her ears, made an on-the-spot decision to donate ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS toward the purchase of Denene Millner Books to be donated to a charity of my choosing. She wanted neither public recognition nor a pat on the back; her sole mission, she said, was to put as many copies of “Early Sunday Morning,” “There’s a Dragon in My Closet,” and “Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut,” in the hands of children who could not otherwise afford them.

A few days, phone calls and emails later, the donation was arranged: 64 copies of “Early Sunday Morning”  were sent to Warren Steele, a board member of the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy, who in turn distributed them among local organizations who have a focus on developing early literacy skills in children: Real Dads Read, ColGa, which will place them in area barbershops and salons, and to Girls, Inc., an advocacy organization for girls. And additional 40 books, 20 each of “Dragon” and “Crown” will be sent later this month. 

I created Denene Millner Books with one very specific goal: to celebrate the humanity of Black children. All I’ve ever wanted to do as an author, a publisher and a lover of babies is to get these stories into the hands of children who deserve to see themselves in the pages. With this incredible donation from a friend of Denene Millner Books, we were able to do that. I’m so grateful to Mr. Steele for being open to receiving the donation and knowing exactly who to get them to so that they could make it into little hands. And I’m thrilled that he partnered with both Leann Malone, Executive Director of Girls, Inc., and Randalette Williams, of Real Dads Read, to make that happen.

My heart is so full. And this is a very public thank you to our generous donor, who heard my call, raised her hand and did something incredible for children by giving them the gift of black children’s books.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

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