Effie Lee Morris Collection of African American Books

by Alena Rivers

“Librarians play a major role and should be leaders in providing continuing access to the African American identity with careful preservation of materials and with challenging guidance to all users”.   –Effie Lee Morris

The Effie Lee Morris Collection of African American Books was bequeathed to the Butler Children’s Literature Center in 2012. Ms. Morris was a pioneer, African American librarian and throughout her career she advocated for children’s services in public libraries. The collection contains a range of titles highlighting the African American experience through children’s literature. Well-known African American authors such as Virginia Hamilton and Nikki Grimes and illustrators such as Tom Feelings and James E. Ransome are just a few whose books appear in the collection. Older, and perhaps lesser-known, titles featuring African American characters such as The Toothpaste Millionaire (Houghton, 1972) and Song of the Empty Bottles (Walck, 1968) also are a part of the collection. Many of the books are signed by the author and/or the illustrator. The collection includes a range of titles that appeal to children and young adults, and represents a variety of genres.

Please visit the Butler Children’s Literature Center to view a sampling of books noted below and many other titles from the Effie Lee Morris Collection.

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (Delacorte, 1999).  Newbery Medal Award and Coretta Scott King Author Award

M.C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton (Simon & Schuster, 1999). Newbery Medal Award, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature, International Board on Books for Young People Honor

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (Dial, 1976).  Newberry Medal Award, Coretta Scott King Author Honor

Song of the Empty Bottles by Osmond Molarsky, illus. by Tom Feelings (Walck, 1968)

The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill (Houghton, 1972)

Welcome Precious by Nikki Grimes, illus. by Bryan Collier (Scholastic, 2006)