• By Southside Library
  • Posted Thursday, January 29, 2015

Where is Tobe? Unfolding Stories of Childhood, Race & Rural Life

Our Black History Month 2015 Road Scholars presentation asks us to consider an issue we still deal with in contemporary children's book publishing. How can we create a world of children's books where the readers see children just like themselves, in all their diversity?

"Can a children's story shape history? Benjamin Filene explores that question through the rich story of a single book, Tobe: A Six-Year-Old Farmer. Published in 1939, with dozens of rich black-and-white photographs, Tobe was perhaps the first children's book to feature realistic depictions of everyday African Americans.The book emerged from a simple question by Tobe, a six year old African American boy growing up during the great Depression in rural Hillsborough NC who asked his white school teacher: "Why does no one in my books look like me?" From that one question the school teacher set out to write a new kind of children's book, one that told her neighbor's story of an African American boy living on a farm.

"Seventy five years later, Filene set out to find the people featured in those photographs, a search that led him to communities in Greensboro, Hillsborough, and beyond. In the resulting process of discovery, one story led to another and then another. The single, seemingly simple book opened up in rich and often unpredictable directions." -The North Carolina Humanities Council's Road Scholars Program

Thursday, February 12th, 11:00 am
Southside Branch Library
3185 Buchanan St.
Winston-Salem, NC 27127
For more information please call (336) 703-2980

Image of book page courtesy North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Special Collections Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill. To learn more, please visit Wilson Library's special exhibition of photos from Where is Tobe? now through March 1st, 2015.

This project is made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Find information about more Black History Month 2015 programs at the library.

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