Monday, April 25, 2011

The Gullah Alphabet

I am always pleased when I find a children's book that motivates me to do some research and learn new facts about our country's history. I recently found a copy of A Gullah Alphabet, by Margie Willis Clary, at a Friends of the Library Sale. I read the book and then started searching the Internet for more information on the Gullah culture.

I learned the Gullah are African Americans who live in the lowcountry region of South Carolina and  Georgia, which includes both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands. It is said that the Gullah language originated around 1700 among the Africans who were brought to America to work. The Gullah are known for preserving more of their African linguistic and cultural heritage than any other African-American community in the U.S. They speak an English-based creole language containing many African words and significant influences from African languages in grammar and sentence structure.

Over the years, the Gullahs have attracted many historians, linguists, folklorists, and anthropologists interested in their rich cultural heritage. Many academic books on that subject have been published. The Gullah have also become a symbol of cultural pride for blacks throughout the United States and a subject of general interest in the media. This has given rise to countless newspaper and magazine articles, documentary films, and children's books on Gullah culture, and to a number of popular novels set in the Gullah region.

The book provides a Gullah word for each letter of the alphabet (except X and Z). There is a sentence in Gullah and then the translation in English. Each word is illustrated with a full-page pencil drawing. Here is an example of one page from the book;

C iz de chillun, ney Mudda fut dey play.
C is for the children, at Mama's feet they play.
The author states, "A Gullah Alphabet is written to introduce children to the beauty of the Gullah language. My hope is, it will encourage further research and study of the language and culture."

This book will be a good addition to your language, social studies, African-American, American history, cultural studies and children's book collections. Children of all ages will find this book entertaining and educational.
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