Written by Joe Armstrong, Content Specialist, Marketing, Downtown Main Library
Join in the celebration of Black History Month as the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library kicks off our fifth annual African American Read-In series. The Saturday afternoon events feature in-person readings by local Black authors and hands-on activities for all ages.
Visit CHPL throughout February to find materials recommended by library staff, in-depth learning resources, and more honoring Black History Month.
- Explore the Digital Library, including the African American Society Columns, opens a new window, Cincinnati Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, opens a new window, and the Althea Hurst Scrapbook, opens a new window.
- Dive in to the Library’s collections with staff lists for adults, opens a new window and kids, opens a new window celebrating Black History Month, with more staff lists, opens a new window added to our website throughout February.
- Watch a Storytime at Home, opens a new window and watch new storytimes on our Facebook page, opens a new window, Mondays and Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
- Watch local veterans' first-hand accounts of their experiences serving in the military in the Veterans History Project, opens a new window.
- Celebrate inventors, opens a new window, attend storytelling workshops, opens a new window, gather for a family storytime, opens a new window, and more at Black History Month events, opens a new window hosted by the Library.
African American Read-In Kicks Off Saturday
Attend a different African American Read-In event every Saturday in February starting Feb. 12. The events, part of many held across the nation, opens a new window, kick off with Alek Teague, author of The Magic Inside, opens a new window. Alek spoke with the Library ahead of the event on Feb. 26, opens a new window.
What inspired you to be an author?
Alek Teague: It was always a dream of mine. Growing up, I suffered from low confidence and low self-esteem at times and I wanted to provide something for kids growing up who may be going through the same thing to read and identify with. Apart from writing, I also work at Cincinnati Public Schools and work with kids to make sure they continually do well academically and socially, to persevere and not believe all the negative things people can say about you. It was great to use that experience to inspire and motivate me to write "The Magic Inside".
Tell us more about what lead you to write your first work, The Magic Inside, as a children's book?
Alek Teague: The reason I decided to write a children's book was that I knew I wanted to start inspiring kids while they were young. I want to inspire them to have a good mindset, no matter where they come from or what difference they may have. Tell them that 'you are great, you are amazing right now as you are.’
Self-affirmation is a major theme throughout The Magic Inside. Why did you choose to include this in the book?
Alek Teague: I’ve found with self-affirmations, the more you say it and internalize it, the more you will believe it and realize it’s true. In "The Magic Inside", I tried to take examples from real life situations. What you say is what you'll become despite what's going on around you. We have the power to change our circumstances.
Tell us more about your efforts in mentoring young students and why mentorship is so important.
Alek Teague: Mentorship is important as it's always good to have an unbiased opinion. People go through things that you might not have gone through. Mentorship is extremely important for me due to the children I work with. At the end of the day, we're all human. My job as a mentor is to listen to you, empathize, sympathize, and direct you on the right path and the positives of things.
What are authors or poets you admire?
Alek Teague: Some of my favorites are children’s books I remember reading at a young age such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, opens a new window, the Junie B. Jones series, opens a new window, No, David! Of course, I also look up to Maya Angelou, opens a new window.
What advice do you have to aspiring writers?
Alek Teague: I would find a niche. Find a problem, come up with a solution, and write about it! Continue to persevere and don't give up. Don't be afraid of writing by yourself. Believe in yourself and keep going.
How has the Library impacted you, especially as an author?
Alek Teague: I love the Library! It’s a place to explore and go in your own world. The Forest Park Branch Library, opens a new window was the place I went to often to get ideas for children's books - and to feel like a kid again!
Attend In-Person African American Read-In Events
Hear from local Black authors every weekend in February at CHPL. Featuring each author reading from their works and sharing their experiences as authors, each event will also include activities and books available for purchase from each author:
- Feb. 12 at the Corryville Branch, opens a new window—Lauren White, author of Cries from the Dark Side of the Moon
- Feb. 19 at the Groesbeck Branch, opens a new window—Debbie Rigaud, author of Simone Breaks All the Rules
- Feb. 26 at the Deer Park Branch, opens a new window—Alek Teague, author of The Magic Inside, Chad and Charles Richardson, authors of Family Reunion and Mario Jackson, author of Nya the Great
Check out our online events calendar for more Black History Month events, opens a new window at the Library.