“There’s no place like home!” This sentiment is beautifully portrayed in the book Africville by Shauntay Grant. The author describes the sights, sounds and smells of a beautiful seaside community. The illustrations show children enjoying a variety of activities, from sunrise to sundown. This is the story of people who love where they live. The green hills, the sparkly ocean and a sense of community all come through as life in Africville is depicted in words and pictures.
The book begins with a lovely stand-alone picture book. The book ends with an explanation of the history of Africville. Africville was a small settlement in Nova Scotia that no longer exists. It was built mostly by people who “could trace their roots back to the arrival of Black Loyalists who migrated to Nova Scotia in the late 1700s” and others who escaped slavery in the USA in the 1800s. Though they paid taxes to the city, residents of Africville did not receive city services such as paved roads and running water. Industries that other communities didn’t want nearby, such as slaughterhouses, were often built there. In the 1960s, the village was demolished and residents were relocated to public housing in Halifax. In 1983, former residents began holding an annual reunion. The group met for the 35th year in July of 2018 to celebrate and remember the residents of this long-gone village.
There isn’t a lot of text in this book, making it a good read-aloud or independent book for children in early grades. However, the content is significant, also making it a good read-aloud or independent book for children in older grades. The final page of the book is a non-fiction description of the village of Africville and what became of it. If you are teaching your students about social justice or about the complicated history of our country, this book will add to your discussions. There are direct links to the Ontario grades 5 and 6 Social Studies curriculum, as well as the Ontario Grade 8 History curriculum.
Lisa Corbett is a member of the Near North Teacher Local.