Browse additional reading and videos on Kara Walker by Art21
How is History Represented?
Kara Walker's work not only prompts us to engage with the history of slavery, but it also asks us to consider how visual representation is connected to this history.
Teaching Difficult Histories
The United States is a country with two dominant narratives—one is a story celebrating freedom and one is a story about its opposite: unfreedom. The two narratives actually depend on each other, and the history of slavery in the United States is fundamental to them both. The story about freedom and liberty, however, gets told much more frequently, creating a shadow story out of the other—one that is being increasingly reckoned with as this Reading Resources guide is published.
Below is a selected bibliography on slavery and resistance organized by age group.
Glenda Armand and Colin Bootman, "Love Twelve Miles Long." Lee & Low Books, 2015.
Laban Carrick Hill and Bryan Collier, "Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave." Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010.
Charlotte Forten, "Diary of Charlotte Forten: A Free Black Girl Before the Civil War." Capstone Press, 2014.
Ellen Levine and Kadir Nelson, "Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad." Scholastic Press, 2007.
Charles R. Smith Jr., "Brick by Brick." Amistad, 2015.
Seattle Public Library's Recommended Children's Books about Slavery & Resistance
Social Justice Books: Bibliography on Slavery, Resistance, and Reparations for Elementary School
Teaching Tolerance: Lies My Bookshelf Told Me: Slavery in Children's Literature
Laurie Anderson, "Chains." The Seeds of America Trilogy, Book I. Atheneum Books, 2010. (Anderson’s historical novel is told from the point of view of a teenage girl who is kidnapped from Africa and sold into slavery in Colonial America on the cusp of the American Revolution.)
Tonya Bolden, "Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglass, a Monumental American Man." Harry N. Abrams, 2018.
Kathleen Van Cleve and Erica Armstrong Dunbar, "Never Caught, the Story of Ona Judge: George and Martha Washington's Courageous Slave Who Dared to Run Away." Aladdin, 2019.
Sharon Draper, "Copper Sun." Atheneum Books, 2006. (This novel follows teenage Amari as she is kidnapped from her African village and sold into slavery in the Carolinas. She and her indentured servant friend, Polly, try to escape their bondage and flee to Spanish-ruled Florida.)
Monica Edinger, "Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad." Candlewick, 2013.
Julius Lester, "Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue." Hyperion Books, 2005. (Written in dialogue format much like a play, this novel centers around a slave auction in the United States.)
Walter Dean Myers, "The Glory Field." Scholastic Paperbacks, 2008.
"13 Honest Books About Slavery Young People Should Actually Read", Huffington Post.
Social Justice Books: Bibliography on Slavery, Resistance, and Reparations for Middle School
William Wells Brown, "Clotel, or, The President's Daughter: A Narrative of Slave Life in the United States," 1853.
Frederick Douglass, "The Heroic Slave," 1853.
Harriet Jacobs, "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl," 1861.
"Unchained Voices: An Anthology of Black Authors in the English-Speaking World of the 18th Century," edited by Vincent Carretta. The University of Kentucky Press, 1996.
Ibram X. Kendi's Antiracist Reading List, New York Times
The Schomburg Center's Black Liberation Reading List for Adults
Read an interview with Kara Walker by Matthea Harvey
Additional Poetry, prose and illustrations on Kara Walker's "A Subtlety"
Read Khalil Gibran Muhammad on the relationship between sugar and slavery
Read Zadie Smith's "What Do We Want History to Do to Us?"
Browse the Talking About Race web portal
Read Hamza Walker's "Presenting Negro Scenes Drawn Upon My Passage..."
Read Kara Walker's take on the Post-Lockdown World
Reading Resources: Kara Walker was produced by Wendy Tronrud (A.R. T. Education Consultant) in collaboration with Art Resources Transfer (A.R.T.) in 2019-20.
A.R.T. acknowledges the invaluable generosity, assistance, and enthusiasm of all who contributed to Reading Resources production.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
All images are protected under copyright by the original rights holders.
A.R.T. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.