From the beginnings of African American children’s literature around the turn of the twentieth century, the parameters of what should be included has been as much of a source of conflict as the terminology used to label this group of people. Commenting on the contested nature of this genre, Dianne Johnson (1990) asserts in Telling Tales: the Pedagogy and Promise of African American Literature for Youth:
Like children’s literature, as a broad category, African American children’s literature is a label which refers to the intended audience. On the other hand, like Afro-American literature, Black children’s literature refers to the ethnic and racial identities of the authors. When the two categories are combined into one, the parameters of the new category are much less clear. This confusion in definition is important, largely because of the deliberate uses to which the literature is put.
In this passage, Johnson highlights the shifting …