February 1999

A wealth of knowledge

By Rachel Kranz Koslow
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The Biographical Dictionary of African Americans places loads of facts at your child's fingertips and helps her/him understand the diversity and wealth of talent that African Americans have offered the world.

With more than 230 listings, this dictionary offers young readers a comprehensive listing of African-American artists, politicians, scientists, athletes, and other history-makers. Individuals featured range from contemporaries — like Queen Latifah, Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, and Tiger Woods — to historical figures, such as James Baldwin, Alexander Crummell, and Sojourner Truth. Parents will probably reference this book as much as their children! The book is compiled alphabetically, and contains a slew of black-and-white photographs. Each entry is chock-full of information: date of birth, date of death (when appropriate), biographical information (parentage, nicknames, etc.), major accomplishments, historical context, and legacies. Some entries even contain quotes. If your child doesn't know the name of the individual he/she is looking for, he can turn to the back of the book and access one of two additional indexes, which list the individuals by area of activity and year of birth.

Rachel Kranz and Philp J. Koslow have taken extreme care to make this an easy-to-use book. Perhaps the most helpful attributes of The Biographical Dictionary of African Americans are the "Further Reading" entries following each biography, which increase the usefulness of this dictionary.

An invaluable reference about the contributions of African Americans, The Biographical Dictionary of African Americans teaches beginning students how to conduct research and encourages older children's interest in heritage and history. It also provides them with a way to contextualize contemporary African Americans' contributions to history. Young readers, cross ethnicity, should have a copy (okay, and maybe parents, too).

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