Written by: Jamia Wilson
Illustrated by: Andrea Pippins
For Ages: 8-12 years
Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figures, Courage, Community, Representation.
Summary: This bright, colorful, and celebratory book enthusiastically describes the achievements of 52 black heroes. The biographies of these figures like Kofi Annan, Simone Biles, and Jean-Michel Basquiat are concisely written one per page and have a colorful illustration of the individual. Background space is filled with abstract illustrations, implying movement that the figures could almost run off of the page. There is also a quote on each page by the person, along with birth information such as dates and location. These short stories about heroes Malorie Blackman, Pelé, Steve McQueen, and Zadie Smith introduce young readers to a variety of historical figures, trailblazers, and activists to spark interest and ignite passion. Perfect for bedtime stories or transition activities, this is an incredibly worthwhile book for any individual.
- Have you heard of any of these people before? Who, and why do you remember them?
- Which one of these people do something you would like to do?
- Which one of these people would you like to be a role model for you?
Continuing the Conversation:
- Choose one of these people whose stories speak to you, and research them further. What challenges did they overcome, and how did they become someone that is heroic? How can you be a hero to the people around you?
- Listen to the song that inspired this title: “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” is a song by Nina Simone. Why do you think the author chose this title for the book? Think of a song that speaks to you the way this song spoke to Jamia Wilson, and create a class playlist of inspiring music.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Jamia Wilson is many things: An activist. A feminist. A storyteller. A mediamaker. But more than anything, she is a natural-born thought leader. As Executive Director and Publisher of Feminist Press at City University of New York, the former Women, Action, and the Media Executive Director, TED Prize Storyteller, and former Vice President of Programs at The Women’s Media Center, Jamia has been a powerful force in the social justice movement for nearly a decade. As a leading voice on feminist and women’s rights issues, her work and words have appeared in and on several outlets such as New York Magazine, The Today Show, and The Washington Post. She’s also a staff writer for Rookie and has contributed to several books such as Madonna and Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop, and I Still Believe Anita Hill. But what we’re most excited about is her own book that she’s currently writing about Beyonce and feminism. (Yes, really.) It’s no surprise she was named in Refinery29’s “17 Faces of the Future of Feminism.
Andrea Pippins is an illustrator, designer, and author who has been featured in O: The Oprah Magazine, Family Circle, The Huffington Post, Bustle, and more. She has done work with brands such as Free People, Lincoln Center, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Andrea is the author of I Love My Hair, a coloring book featuring her illustrations celebrating various hairstyles and textures, and Becoming Me, for young women to color, doodle, and brainstorm their way to a creative life. Check out Andrea’s new book, Young, Gifted & Black, set to be released Spring 2018. Andrea produces artwork with a mission to create what she wants to see and a vision to empower women and girls of color and people in underserved communities with visual tools to own and tell their own stories.