Telling a People's Story Traveling Panel Exhibit

Telling a Peoples Story books

On display Sept. 6 - Oct. 28, 2022

For the first time, African-American children’s illustrated literature is the focus of a museum exhibition featuring art produced for book illustrations. The presentation of this genre offers a lens into the cultural, historical, and social makeup of African-American cultural identity, while also shedding light on the long neglected world of African-American authors and illustrators in the pantheon of children’s literature. 

Telling A People’s Story addresses:
• The presentation of African-American identity and history in a creative, educational and respectful manner.
• The raising of greater awareness for the role African-American illustrators and authors play in the development and growth of the field of children’s literature.
• The topic of social justice throughout African-American history.
• The need for awareness to the challenges African-American children’s book authors and illustrators face in a field lacking sufficient representation of minorities.
• The importance of appreciating the culture and history of a people who are deeply rooted in the American story.

When you visit the Telling A People's Story exhibit at the library, you'll have an opportunity to sit and enjoy any of the books highlighted in the exhibit. This collection of books will remain on display (not available for checkout) while we are hosting the exhibit. (Once the TAPS exhibit moves on, the books will be available for you to check out.)

TAPS reading exhibit display in lobby
TAPS book display in the lobby.
TAPS book display in the Reading Room
TAPS book display in the Reading Room.







Telling A People’s Story is the first major museum exhibition devoted to the art found within the pages of African-American children’s picture books. The exhibition emphasizes the strength of the illustrations as visual narrative representations of the African-American experience. While aspects of social justice are found throughout the three main galleries, the exhibition goes beyond providing a look into the struggles of African Americans. This project celebrates the complex and diverse African-American experience through a lens intended for children and young readers. The exhibition offers something for all viewers through the representation of familiar and lesser-known people and the contributions of African Americans to an American identity.

More than 600 books, and over 14,000 illustrations were reviewed during the development of this exhibition in search of a strong representation of events and milestones in African-American history. Themes and time periods include African Origins, Middle Passage, Slavery, Emancipation, Reconstruction, Harlem Renaissance, Segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement. Other themes draw attention to historical figures in politics, music, sports, arts, and entertainment. The selection of approximately 130 works on display includes paintings, pastels, drawings and mixed media works. Featured are more than 30 artists, spanning nearly 50 years of creativity.

Collectively, the many books created by authors and illustrators since the late 19th century contribute to an understanding of the African-American experience through two perspectives. First, is an internal look into the need for validation and the creation of positive self-images. Second, is to give an introduction to the African-American experience for those unfamiliar in order to better understand the cultural, historical and social makeup of African-American identity.

Traveling Panel Exhibit:

Thanks to a generous grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation in Cleveland, OH, the Miami University Art Museum is pleased to bring the content of the original exhibition to elementary schools, public libraries and other educational institutions. The 5 sets of the Traveling Panel Exhibition will support the introduction of educational resources and programming opportunities surrounding the contextualization of African-American children’s picture books.

Telling a People's Story book covers