Black History Month, History

Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town: Based on the History of the African American Pioneer Settlement by A. LaFaye

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Back of Book:
When Dede sees a notice offering land to black people in Kansas, her family decides to give up their life of sharecropping to become homesteading pioneers in the Midwest. Inspired by the true story of Nicodemus, Kansas, a town founded in the late 1870s by Exodusters—former slaves leaving the Jim Crow South in search of a new beginning—this fictional story follows Dede and her parents as they set out to stake and secure a claim, finally allowing them to have a home to call their own.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author A. LaFaye in exchange for an honest review. I am a huge fan of historical nonfiction picture books! I love sharing them in my classroom and giving my students a glimpse into the past. Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town is a terrific look at a time period that is not often shared in Kidlit. The story follows Dede and her family as they work to create a better life for themselves in a state called Kansas. I love that Dede and her family form relationships with the Native Americans that already lived there. It shows readers an important piece of history that is often overlooked. A. LaFaye beautifully told the story of one family’s fight to have a better life. Nicole Tadgell’s illustrations are soft and detailed. The back of the book has more information about The Exodusters who mase their way to free land. This is a must-have addition to any Post Civil War or Black History Month unit.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

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Biography, Black History Month, History

Fearless Mary: The True Adventures of Mary Fields, American Stagecoach Driver By Tami Charles

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Back of Book:
A little-known but fascinating and larger-than-life character, Mary Fields is one of the unsung, trailblazing African American women who helped settle the American West. A former slave, Fields became the first African American woman stagecoach driver in 1895, when, in her 60s, she beat out all the cowboys applying for the job by being the fastest to hitch a team of six horses. She won the dangerous and challenging job, and for many years traveled the badlands with her pet eagle, protecting the mail from outlaws and wild animals, never losing a single horse or package. Fields helped pave the way for other women and people of color to become stagecoach drivers and postal workers.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Tami Charles for in exchange for an honest review.
One of my favorite parts of January is celebrating black history month with my students. I love sharing gems like Fearless Mary with my class. This is such a beautiful and inspirational book about one woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Tami has weaved together a fantastic tale of strength and determination. Claire Almon created detailed illustrations that show readers a true picture of the past. Reading this book made me want to research more about female stagecoach drivers. I can’t wait to share this book with my class when we get back from break.
Ages 5 and up

32 Pages

Biography, Black History Month

A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks (People Who Shaped Our World) Alice Faye Duncan

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With a voice both wise and witty, Gwendolyn Brooks crafted poems that captured the urban Black experience and the role of women in society. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago, reading and writing constantly from a young age, her talent lovingly nurtured by her parents. Brooks ultimately published 20 books of poetry, two autobiographies, and one novel. Alice Faye Duncan has created her own song to celebrate Gwendolyn’s life and work, illuminating the tireless struggle of revision and the sweet reward of success.
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Alice Faye Duncan in exchange for an honest review. I was so excited to see that this touching lyrical biography publishes on January 1st. It is a perfect addition to any Black History unit. Having never read anything written by Gwendolyn Brooks I was quickly drawn into the life of this strong woman. In reading this story I learned so much about Brooks and the time period that she lived in. Xia Gordon created illustrations that are rich in color and texture. Overall, this is a stunning book that combines history and poetry to create a moving narrative that readers will love.
48 Pages
Ages 6 and up

Black History Month, Cyblis Awards 2018, History

Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present

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Back of Book:
Meet 52 icons of color from the past and present in this celebration of inspirational achievement—a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers. Jamia Wilson has carefully curated this range of black icons and the book is stylishly brought together by Andrea Pippins’ colorful and celebratory illustrations.. All children deserve to see themselves represented positively in the books they read. Highlighting the talent and contributions of black leaders and changemakers from around the world, readers of all backgrounds will be empowered to discover what they too can achieve. Strong, courageous, talented and diverse, these extraordinary men and women’s achievements will inspire a new generation to chase their dream… whatever it may be.
My Review:
I was excited to read this book as a part of the Cybils Awards. It is a fantastic look at 52 African Americans who have made an impact on the world around them. It is an excellent resource to teach children about some of the bold, brave, and gifted men and women who have stood for equality and honor. I loved that the text covers heroes from our past like Harriet Tubman, but also discusses people who are making an impact now like Simone Biles. I appreciated the welcome note from the author and illustrator in the front of the book. I can tell that they put a great deal of thought and research into the men and women in this book. I can see using this book in class as an opening to many discussions involving, race, equality, history, and activism. The illustrations are appealing and vibrant. A great addition to any school library or classroom. I also see it as a great book for Black History Month.
Ages 8 and up
64 Pages

Biography, Black History Month

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 By Alice Faye Duncan

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Back of Book:
In February 1968, two African American sanitation workers were killed by unsafe equipment in Memphis, Tennessee. Outraged at the city’s refusal to recognize a labor union that would fight for higher pay and safer working conditions, sanitation workers went on strike. The strike lasted two months, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was called to help with the protests. While his presence was greatly inspiring to the community, this unfortunately would be his last stand for justice. He was assassinated in his Memphis hotel the day after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” sermon in Mason Temple Church.
My Review:
I revived a copy of this book from author Alice Faye Duncan in exchange for an honest review.
Run don’t walk to your nearest bookstore today and grab this amazing, haunting story about the Sanitation Shrike of 1968. Alice Faye Duncan took a historical event and brought it to life! The story follows a young girl as she watches her daddy stand up for what he believes in. The story is inspired by and teacher and her memories of participating in the strike when she was a child. The text is written using poetry. Each page holds a title with a verse. The illustrations are unique and rich in texture and color. The back of the book has a fantastic timeline as well as a list of museums that readers can visit. This is a perfect book to add to any Martin Luther King Jr. or history unit. It is a book that King himself would be happy to read.
Ages 9 and up
40 Pages

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Biography, Black History Month

Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton

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Back of Book:
You know the Super Soaker. It’s one of top twenty toys of all time. And it was invented entirely by accident. Trying to create a new cooling system for refrigerators and air conditioners, impressive inventor Lonnie Johnson instead created the mechanics for the iconic toy.

A love for rockets, robots, inventions, and a mind for creativity began early in Lonnie Johnson’s life. Growing up in a house full of brothers and sisters, persistence and a passion for problem solving became the cornerstone for a career as an engineer and his work with NASA. But it is his invention and of the Super Soaker water gun that has made his most memorable splash with kids and adults.
My Review:
I was raised in the 90s so Super Soakers were apart of every summer. Everyone I knew had one. When I saw that there was a biography picture book about the man who invented them, I knew I needed it in my collection. I loved reading about the determination of Lonnie Johnson. The story begins with his childhood and ends with the invention of the soaker. It was fun to share this story with my students. They loved hearing about the creation of a toy that they all play with regularly. The illustrations are Don Tate and have beautiful images and detail. There is a note in the back of the book from the author about his interview with Lonnie Johnson. This is a great story to give to any readers who want to be inventors. I would also recommended adding this to all summer reading lists.
Ages 6 and up

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Black History Month

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed

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Back of Book:
A great classroom and bedtime read-aloud, Mae Among the Stars is the perfect book for young readers who have big dreams and even bigger hearts!
When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering.
She wanted to be an astronaut.
Her mom told her, “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.”
Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.
This book will inspire other young girls to reach for the stars, to aspire for the impossible, and to persist with childlike imagination.

My Review:
This book is such an inspirational look at how Mae never gave up on her dream to go to space. Even when others doubted Mae she never gave up on what she wanted to be when she grew up. The writing of this text is beautiful and the message of never giving up is truly inspirational! The illustrations are warm and inspirational. I did not know very much about Mae before I read this picture book. I fell in love with her pure determination and strength. She is a historical figure that every young girl should learn about. The back of the book has a bio and resources on how to find out more information about Mae. A terrific story that should be in every library and classroom.
Ages 5 and up
40 Pages

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Black History Month

Fancy Party Gowns: The Story of Fashion Designer Ann Cole Lowe by Deborah Blumenthal

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Back of Book:

As soon as Ann Cole Lowe could walk, her momma and grandma taught her to sew. She worked near her momma in their Alabama family shop in the early 1900s, making glorious dresses for women who went to fancy parties. When Ann was 16, her momma died, and Ann continued sewing dresses. It wasn’t easy, especially when she went to design school and had to learn alone, segregated from the rest of the class. But the work she did set her spirit soaring, as evidenced in the clothes she made, including Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress and Olivia de Havilland’s dress at the Oscars when she won for Best Actress in To Each His Own. Rarely credited, Ann Cole Lowe became “society’s best kept secret.” This beautiful picture book shines the spotlight on a little-known visionary who persevered in times of hardship, always doing what she was passionate about: making elegant gowns for the women who loved to wear them.

My Review:

This is a truly lovely picture book Ann Cole Lowe. I love finding stories about the talented women who design such beautiful clothing. The text of this book is rich in history and tells the story of how strong and courageous Ann was. She faced hard work and prejudice people. She Finally in 1961 Ann received the recognition that she so deeply deserved. The illustrations in this book are beautiful and show the elegance of the dresses that she created. A great book to read for  

Ages 5 and up

40 Pages

Black History Month

Hey Black Child By Useni Eugene Perkins

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Back Book: Hey There Black Child
This lyrical, empowering poem celebrates black children and seeks to inspire all young people to dream big and achieve their goals.

 

The poem written in this book was first written in 1975. The poem speaks directly to young African American children. The message is inspiring and tells about the strength that they possess. The poem tells readers that they are amazing and that can accomplish anything if they set their minds to it. The text is simple, but powerful. This is the kind of book that makes readers sit a little straighter and smile a little wider. The illustrations in this story are truly stunning. I love that there are illustrations alternate between both girls and boys. It shows readers that no matter what gender they are, they can accomplish their dreams. There are notes from the author and the illustrator in the back of the book. This is an excellent story to share during Black History Month.

Ages 5 and up

40 Pages

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Black History Month

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library By Carole Boston Weatherford

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Back of Book:

 

Amid the scholars, poets, authors, and artists of the Harlem Renaissance stood an Afro–Puerto Rican named Arturo Schomburg. This law clerk’s life’s passion was to collect books, letters, music, and art from Africa and the African diaspora and bring to light the achievements of people of African descent through the ages. When Schomburg’s collection became so big it began to overflow his house (and his wife threatened to mutiny), he turned to the New York Public Library, where he created and curated a collection that was the cornerstone of a new Negro Division. A century later, his groundbreaking collection, known as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, has become a beacon to scholars all over the world.

 

My Review:

 

I have never heard of Schomburg but after reading this book, I realized that he played a very important role in history. This book is an extensive and well written biography about the man who built a library. I loved learning about the history that Schomburg researched. It opened my eyes to amazing men and women in history of African decent. Each page of this book discusses a different part of Schomburg’s life His thirst for knowledge was never ending. He spent his life collecting books, painting, and pamphlets that would help the rest of the word. This is one of those books that needs to be shared during Black History Month.

Ages 9 and up

48 Pages

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