Carole Boston Weatherford is a storyteller and a poet, evident in all of her books whether they are nonfiction or fiction, for the very young or older readers. Her language cries to be read aloud as she introduces jazz greats like Billie Holiday and John Coltrane. It slides off the tongue at a party and even as she examines tough historical events. Read about what interests and stirs her and become inspired yourself.
Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You
Young readers are called to action, because it is possible that “You can be a King” in small everyday ways. Brief, recognizable scenes and sophisticated ideas are realistically interspersed with simpler, child-like classroom goings-on to bring the concept closer to familiar experiences. The result is a lyrical book just right to launch discussions.
Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane
John's music began when he listened to the music in his childhood. Semi-abstract illustrations vivify sound-filled poetry, together introducing a boy who would grow up to become the great John Coltrane.
Champions on the Bench
A boy narrates his disappointment that his "colored" team cannot play in the 1955 Little League baseball playoffs in Williamsport (PA), rebuffed by the white groups. Dramatic illustrations are used in this story based on actual events.
Dear Mr. Rosenwald
A 10 year old girl narrates this fictionalized story, based on real events and people, of how her rural southern town builds a new school for African American children with the help of Julius Rosenwald (then president of Sears Roebuck).
Freedom in Congo Square
Join the rhythmic countdown to Sunday afternoon, the one time when enslaved Africans in 19th century Louisiana could relax in what became known as New Orleans’ Congo Square. Vibrant paintings, reminiscent of Jacob Lawrence, further enliven the portrait of people as they toiled daily, culminating on Sunday. An introduction provides historical insight and perspective of this little known part of American history.
Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins
A girl and her mom want to have a sweet treat on a hot day but cannot sit at the soda fountain simply because they are "colored." Impressionistic paintings soften the harshness of the story of segregation in the South during a turbulent time.
I, Matthew Henson
Matthew Henson, an African American, accompanied Robert Peary to the North Pole where together they placed a flag. The courage and perseverance of this remarkable man is revealed through his voice and luminous illustrations.
Jesse Owens: Fastest Man Alive
Subtle references and evocative language introduce Jesse Owens and what he faced as a Gold Medalist — an African American in Hitler's 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. An endnote provides more information.
Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century
Born in the Mississippi Delta in 1927, the always musically gifted Mary Violet Leontyne Price would grow up to be the first African American to star at LaScala in Italy. Evocative illustrations swirl with poetic text to bring this star to life. Leontyne was preceded and may have been inspired by Marian Anderson, so this book pairs well with When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson.
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
Dramatic full color illustrations (which won a Caldecott Honor) and splendid, poetic language depict the bravery of Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery on a Maryland plantation only to return again and again to help other slaves escape. Deeply religious, Harriet became known as the Moses of her people and a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library
Who was Arturo Alfonso Schomburg? He was an Afro-Puerto Rican man whose thirst for knowledge about his roots led him to collect and manage what would become a great library in New York City. Fluid language informs as handsome, realistic paintings illuminate the highlights of Schomburg’s life and contributions. A timeline and bibliography may inspire other young researchers and booklovers.
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer
Stirring poems and vibrant collage illustrations combine to celebrate the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, a champion of the Civil Rights and voting rights movements during the 1950s through the 1970s. Born in the Mississippi delta, the youngest of 20 children, Hamer had to drop out of school after sixth grade to work in the cotton fields before she became a powerful voice for her people. The book vividly brings to life Hamer’s legacy with a message of hope, determination, and strength.
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