The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore ‒ Vaunda M. Nelson

the book itch
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  • Age Range: 6 to 9 years
  • Grade Level: Grade 1 – 4
  • Lexile Measure: 630
  • Series: Carolrhoda Picture Books
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (November 1, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761339434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761339434




In the 1930s, Lewis’s dad, Lewis Michaux Sr., had an itch he needed to scratch—a book itch. How to scratch it? He started a bookstore in Harlem and named it the National Memorial African Bookstore. And as far as Lewis Michaux Jr. could tell, his father’s bookstore was one of a kind. People from all over came to visit the store, even famous people—Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and Langston Hughes, to name a few. In his father’s bookstore people bought and read books, and they also learned from each other. People swapped and traded ideas and talked about how things could change. They came together here all because of his father’s book itch. Read the story of how Lewis Michaux Sr. and his bookstore fostered new ideas and helped people stand up for what they believed in.


Notable Acknowledgements: 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, Notable Children’s Books 2016.


Rationale for Inclusion: In addition to being well-reviewed by Booklist and School Library Journal, this book provides children with a historical “window” into African-American culture in Harlem during the 1930s and their fight for civil rights. Throughout the story, children are introduced to prominent African-American figures such as Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. This story also emphasizes the power of books and how one man’s dream to open up a bookstore against all odds, became a reality that helped to provide his community with a place where they could read, learn, and exchange knowledge and ideas. From the words of Lewis Michaux Sr. himself, “Knowledge is power, you need it every hour. Read a book!”



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