Tag Archives: segregation

Counting the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician

Written by: Lesa Cline-Ransome

Illustrated by: Raúl Colón

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: STEM, Women in Science, Historical Figure, Space, Segregation, Racism, POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity, Historic Events. 

Summary: Katherine was an incredibly intellectually gifted child, starting 2nd grade at age 6, and 5th grade the year after.  Her parents strongly valued education and moved the family closer to the West Virginia Institute, where Katherine started high school at the age of ten and college at the age of 15 on a full scholarship.  Years later, after graduation and teaching, she got a job in the segregated computing office at Langley Aeronautics.

Katherine was disciplined, hardworking, and brilliant.  She soon blazed her own trail as the only permanently working woman and woman of color in the office where she was originally placed on just temporary assignment.  She was instrumental in the Space Race and has inspired too many people to count, especially young women of color to embrace their intelligence and interest in STEM.

This is a fantastic book that describes just how pivotal Katherine Johnson was to American history during the Space Race of the early 1960’s.  Having these books that intellectualize women, especially women of color during segregation is crucial for students to have a comprehensive history of the United States.  Katherine Johnson was largely ignored until recently, and there is additional information about Katherine in the back of the book.  This is a great book for older children, especially after reading some of the other Hidden Figures books or watching the movie!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

lesa_nola-2-2Lesa Cline-Ransome grew up in Malden, MA, a suburb just outside of Boston, the daughter of two nurses and the youngest of three. She considers consider herself very lucky to have grown up with a mother who loved to read. Each week Lesa’s Mom would take Lesa with her to the local library so that she could stock up on books. As Lesa grew older she would venture off into the children’s section and gather up her own collection to check out. Through her mother Lesa realized that reading could become a wonderful escape and writing even more so. When her mother gave Lesa a diary as a gift, she first filled the pages with the “very important” details of her life—adventures with her friends, secret crushes and the many ways in which her family drove her crazy. Then Lesa began creating my own stories! Lesa became interested in children’s books the year she married. Her husband, James was working on illustrating his first book which allowed both of them to look at picture books in a new way. When they’d browse books in bookstores, he studied the illustrations, she read the stories. Lesa eventually completed a graduate degree in elementary education and through coursework became truly immersed in children’s literature.

raul-colon-706247Raúl Colón is the award-winning illustrator of many picture books, including Draw! an ALA Notable Book and recipient of the International Latino Book Award; Imagine! an ALA Notable Book, a New York Public Library Best Book for Kids, and a Bookpage Best Book; Susanna Reich’s José! Born to DanceAngela’s Christmas by Frank McCourt; and Jill Biden’s Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops. Mr. Colón lived in Puerto Rico as a young boy and now resides in New City, New York, with his family.

Enough! 20 Protestors Who Changed America

Written by: Emily Easton

Illustrated by: Ziyue Chen

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: American History, Activism, Historical Figures, Courage, Segregation, Enslavement, Sports, Environmentalism. 

Summary: 

This book opens with an Author’s Note talking about her inspiration to write the book.  Emily’s young cousins had been in a school shooting a few weeks before the devastating event in Parkland, Florida.  Her family was physically fine, and they were empowered to do more.  One of them, Ryan (not the Parkland survivor Ryan, who wrote the Forward), helped to organize the March For Our Lives and their older brother took some time from college to help organize further events and demonstrations.  Emily Easton decided to write a book that described the actions of 20 Americans and their protests to create ripples of change.  In the back, there is also more historical information and dates related to each of the protestors.

The book itself is very easy to read, each page having a single line devoted to the protestor.  They are fairly well-known historical figures like Samuel Adams and Susan B. Anthony that children will eventually learn about in school, but probably won’t learn about their activist side.  I can describe the book as very entry-level, with the first half of it featuring well-known heavy hitters like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Ruby Bridges.  Rachel Carson is mentioned, which I loved, I don’t think she gets enough attention.  I was also pleased to see Gilbert Baker, creator of the first Pride flag, and Colin Kaepernick as well.

We personally would have left off Samuel Adams (dressing up like Mohawk people before throwing out crates of tea is not so much a protest in our eyes, and more like a scapegoating) but seeing as how children in the majority of public schools will be learning about these figures, they should learn about this activist history at the same time.  However, I do like that this story can be an easy access point into learning whole histories about these American figures and how they fought back against injustice.  Social movements and activism is an important aspect of American history, and students should feel empowered to stand up for marginalized populations and learn about how they can become involved in social justice causes that they care about.  This is a valuable book, because it is a perfect entry point for someone just beginning their journey into the world of social justice and activism.

This book was sent to us by our friends at Random House Children’s Books, but all opinions are our own.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

emily-eastonEmily Easton was the Publishing Director of the Walker Books for Young Readers imprint at Bloomsbury Publishing, until the imprint closed.  Now, she is the Vice President of Crown Books for Young Readers! Emily has diverse editorial taste, editing everything from board books to teen books, from fiction to nonfiction.  She has published numerous bestsellers and award winners, including the Caldecott Honor Book Gone Wild by David McLimans, the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans in World War II by Martin W. Sandler, the Pura Belpre Illustration Award-winner Grandma’s Gift by Eric Velasquez, and the New York Times bestselling “Perfect Chemistry” trilogy by Simone Elkeles.

81Ya0axP-fL._US230_From illustrator Ziyue Chen’s website: “Hi! My name is Ziyue, pronounced as Zzz yuair or you can call me Angeline. I’m a Singapore based Illustrator and graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design in US. I love drawing and visualizing stories through illustrations. I work on mostly Children’s Books, mural painting and print media from concept development to print.

My life goal has been to have an emotional connection with those who view my work. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, sketching, swimming and spending time with my loved ones. Mixed nuts, goji berries and avocado milkshake are my favourite snack. Yum.”

Althea Gibson: The Story of Tennis’ Fleet-of-Foot Girl

Written by: Megan Reid

Illustrated by: Laura Freeman

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Historical Figure, Women in Sports, Segregation, Trailblazer, Black Culture & Identity. 

Summary: 

Althea Gibson was the first Black person to win a Wimbledon trophy!  This book talks about how sporty she was as a child, and how Althea could never stop moving.  When Althea found a Black tennis club a few blocks from her home in Harlem, she had the self-confidence to walk right in and start swinging a racket.  Soon, Althea began traveling to play against other Black players.

The story also addresses how sometimes Althea did not exhibit the best sportsmanship during games, making fun of other players and getting upset when she lost.  However, this drive also caused her to desegregate the women’s tennis league that competed globally for events like Grand Slams and Wimbledon.  Althea fearlessly took on the challenge, gaining notoriety.  She won Wimbledon in 1957 and then again in 1958.

Unfortunately, Althea’s fame and ability did not break down as many racial barriers as she had hoped and Althea left tennis feeling like the sport abandoned her.  She did massive amounts of youth outreach and set up mobile tennis courts in neighborhoods that lacked them, but became jaded by the whiteness and racism that existed (and still exists) among the sports of the elite.  Overall, this is a very positive book that focuses on Althea’s achievements and life, and does not go into details about her later life, which is fine (it is a children’s book after all) but there is a long Author’s note in the back, timeline of important events, and a list of other resources to learn more.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Reid, MeganMegan Reid works in books and television. She’s lived in seven states and two countries (and gone to twelve schools!), but now she’s happy to be based in Brooklyn with her dog, Luna. Althea Gibson is her first book for children.

 

 

 

Freeman-headshot-G54sml_800Laura Freeman is originally from New York City, but now lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children. Laura received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and began her career working for various editorial clients. Laura has illustrated over thirty children’s books, including Hidden Figures written by Margot Lee Shetterly, the Nikki & Deja series by Karen English and Fancy Party Gowns by Deborah Blumenthal. In addition to illustrating books and editorial content, her art can be found on a wide range of products, from dishes and textiles to greeting cards.

Little People Big Dreams: Josephine Baker

Written by: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrated by: Agathe Sorlet 

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Biography, Historical Figure, Musician, Women in Music, Trailblazer, Segregation, Racism, Activism, Modern Black Freedom Struggle, WWII. 

Summary: Josephine was a born performer, and found her fame dancing on a chorus line in New York City.  Due to ongoing segregation and general racist American society, she moved to France to work on a new show.  Josephine became incredibly famous, becoming the first African-American woman to star in a film.  She also adopted a bunch of animals and a dozen children!  During WWII, Josephine became a spy in the French Resistance.  She’s really just an overall badass. Josephine eventually moved back to the States and became engaged in activism for the Modern Black Freedom Struggle.

We love Josephine and are so glad this book exists that also talks about all of her achievements besides being an amazing performer!

This book was sent in consideration of the Best Books of 2019 list by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (an imprint of Quarto), but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maria-isabel-sanchez-vegara-2Mª Isabel Sanchez Vegara was born in Barcelona, Spain, and she is a writer and creative director perhaps best known as the author of much of the Little People, Big Dreams series. Six years ago, she decided to self-publish a book that had been in her mind for a long time. One day, one thousand copies of arrived at her home – she had no idea what she was going to do with them! She opened a little online shop, placed them to some pretty stores in her neighborhood and, one by one, she sold them all. Soon, publishing houses started to approach her to write books, but she was working on another idea of her own: a series about little people with BIG dreams. Each book tells the childhood story of one of the world’s female icons in an entertaining, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, allowing them to identify with the characters in each story.

50.jpgAgathe Sorlet is an illustrator based in Paris, France!

Pies From Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Written by: Dee Romito

Illustrated by: Laura Freeman

For ages: 5-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Modern Black Freedom Struggle, Segregation, Historical Figures, Historical Narratives, POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity, Activism, Community Organizing. 

Summary: Georgia Gilmore is both a mother of 6 and a cook at a lunch counter during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  She is inspired to do more fundraising for the boycott, and for the community organizing and activism surrounding segregation.  Georgia spearheaded efforts of local women who cooked secretly in their homes and then sold it to others in the local community.  The profits were then used in the fundraising efforts and donated to the cause.  Georgia operated under the utmost secrecy and through her efforts she was able to donate huge amounts of money, always saying that “it came from nowhere” in order to not implicate herself or anyone else.  However, when her job finds out she’s involved with the organization efforts, she is fired.  MLK Jr. helps Georgia update her kitchen and open a home restaurant, where she is able to continue the fundraising and hold meetings for key Civil Rights leaders!

Georgia Gilmore is a lovely example of how a person can partake in solid on the ground  organization efforts and create incredible ripples of change throughout a community.  So many organizers and activists have been erased from retellings in favor of uplifting a few key individuals in a simplified narrative.  Having these stories told showcase how intricate community efforts are, and how everyone can become involved in making change.  This is a crucial message to get across in times of political and social change, we have much to learn now about the efforts of those before us.  Students today are incredibly lucky to have children’s books like this to learn about heroes such as Georgia.  After reading this book, we have hope that young people will have better access to these stories instead of learning about organizers like Georgia Gilmore as adults.

This book was sent to us by little bee books but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

sleeves_2_origDee Romito is an author of books for young readers and a former elementary school teacher. She’s also an active PTA parent, Co-founder of the Buffalo-Niagara Children’s Writer’s and Illustrators (BNCWI), and the PAL Coordinator (for published members) of West/Central NY SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators).

​Dee has lived in Buffalo, NY for most of her life and loves it there. (There’s a lot more to this place than winter snow and it truly is The City of Good Neighbors.) She’s had her share of travels around the world and short stints elsewhere, including a semester in London, a summer waitressing near the beach in North Carolina, and a first year of teaching in Atlanta.

Freeman-headshot-G54sml_800Laura Freeman is originally from New York City, but now lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children. Laura received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and began her career working for various editorial clients. Laura has illustrated over thirty children’s books, including Hidden Figures written by Margot Lee Shetterly, the Nikki & Deja series by Karen English and Fancy Party Gowns by Deborah Blumenthal. In addition to illustrating books and editorial content, her art can be found on a wide range of products, from dishes and textiles to greeting cards.

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne

Written by: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by: Elizabeth Zunon

For ages: Elementary students and older

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Racism, Jim Crow, Segregation, Entertainment Industry, Historical Figures, Civil Rights, Modern Black Freedom Struggle.

Summary: This book spans the life of Lena Horne, legendary vocalist and performer.  Lena was born to parents that constantly hustled and were nomadic at times.  At age 2, she became the youngest member of the NAACP!  Lena got used to traveling with her mother doing vaudeville shows and sometimes staying with her grandmother where Lena took music and dance classes.  Her grandmother forbade her to consider a career in show business despite Lena’s interest in the entertainment industry.  Lena attended school until the Great Depression hit, when she became a chorus line dancer at The Cotton Club in Harlem and was coached by her mother.  Soon, she became a Broadway performer and cut a record at age 18.  Lena began to travel but experienced segregationist racism in many places, and her manager began to introduce her as Cuban instead of Black.  Eventually, MGM offered Lena a movie contract-the first one to be offered to an African-American actress!  Despite this, she had trouble securing movie roles due to her activism and white women wearing makeup in movies to look Black.  Lena sang at Truman’s inaugural ball, had two children, and was divorced.  She married a white music director partially to help her career, and it worked (but she learned to love him!). She took time off from performing and became a foot soldier for the activist efforts to end segregation and worked with the NAACP, National Council for Negro Women, and spoke at the March on Washington.  Lena eventually returned to the big screen, and continued to perform for years to come.

This book is very thorough, being clear about the hardships that Lena endured throughout her life and highlighting her activism.  It mentioned other individuals doing the same work she was doing, in some places by name and in some places not.  The author highlights how hard Lena works without reducing her to exceptionalism.  This is a long book made for older elementary students and covers a wide range and variety of topics, including fantastic vocabulary associated with the Modern Black Freedom Struggle.  An Author’s Note is in the back along with sources and resources for further learning!

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you ever felt uncomfortable while traveling?
  • Have you ever performed?  What was it like?
  • How do you think Lena felt when she was introduced as Cuban?
  • Why do you think it was important to Lena to take time off from performing and help in the activist efforts of the 50’s & 60’s?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn more about several of the lesser known individuals mentioned in the book such as Medgar Evers.  What did he do that was beneficial to the movement, and why do you think he isn’t well-known today?
  • Who were some other activist/performers like Lena Horne?  What did they do that was unique to their own experience and character?
  • Listen to some of Lena’s songs, or watch a video of her singing on Sesame Street.  What is special about her performance style?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

CaroleBostonWeatherford-259x300Carole Boston Weatherford is Baltimore-born and -raised! Carole composed her first poem in first grade and dictated the verse to her mother on the ride home from school. Her father, a high school printing teacher, printed some of her early poems on index cards. Since her literary debut with Juneteenth Jamboree in 1995, Carole’s books have received three Caldecott Honors, two NAACP Image Awards, an SCBWI Golden Kite Award, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor and many other honors.

For career achievements, Carole received the Ragan-Rubin Award from North Carolina English Teachers Association and the North Carolina Literature Award, among the state’s highest civilian honors. She holds an M.A. in publications design from University of Baltimore and an M.F.A. in creative writing from University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is a Professor of English at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

71zHtxPJLqL._US230_Elizabeth Zunon was born in Albany, NY and spent her childhood in a hot, sunny, tropical country in West Africa called the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), where people speak French (and many other languages). Elizabeth’s Mom read Elizabeth’s little brother and Elizabeth a lot of bedtime stories in English after they came home from speaking French all day at school. As a little girl, she loved to draw, paint, make up dances and play dress-up, and as Elizabeth grew up, that didn’t really change! After returning to the United States, Elizabeth attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and graduated in June 2006 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration.  She’s now back in Albany, where every day she might draw, paint, collage, sew, silkscreen, make jewelry, purses, and ponder the endless possibilities of chocolate! Her work is largely influenced by the people, places, and things from her childhood in the Ivory Coast as the product of two cultures.  You can also follow her blog-Lizzie Blogs!

The United States v. Jackie Robinson

Written by: Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Illustrated by: R. Gregory Christie

For ages: 5-10 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figures, Military History, Sports Figures, Civil Rights.

Summary: Before we knew Jackie Robinson as the first African-American Major League Baseball player, he served in the military.  Jackie grew up in California, during segregation.  His family was the only family of color on their street, and once their neighbors even started a petition to make them leave.  His mother resisted, and taught her children to always stand up for what was right.  Jackie was a phenomenal athlete, and one of the best college football players in the country.  Unfortunately, his knee was injured because of constantly being tackled by teammates even when he didn’t have the ball.

When Jackie Robinson was first in the military, it was still racially segregated.  This means he and the other soldiers of color had separate places to sit, eat, and live.  While he was still serving, the military outlawed segregation!  This meant that now Jackie and his other soldiers were integrated with the rest of the soldiers, specifically the white ones.  Unfortunately, things did not change overnight.  One day, Jackie was ordered to the back of the bus by the driver so a white soldier could sit down.  Jackie refused.  Even though the military had been desegregated, Robinson was taken to court by the military police.  Jackie must remember what his mother taught him, about standing up for what’s right even when it’s difficult.

This is a great book to cover a not-so-distant time in American history, as well as one of the most well-known sports figures.  This isn’t a well-known case either, and it is important for children to know how influential and strong Jackie Robinson was.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have you heard of Jackie Robinson before?
  • What’s your favorite sport to play?
  • Jackie was very brave to stand up for what was right.  What can you do that’s brave, to help people too?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn more about historic Civil Rights cases.  What is a case that particularly inspires you?  What can you learn from the past that can help marginalized communities today?
  • Jackie Robinson was the first MLB player of color.  Who are the other major sports heroes of color that broke barriers?  Did any of them go through anything like Jackie did when he was in the military?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

sudipta bardhan-quallenIn 2001, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen was well on her way to not being a writer. She had graduated from the California Institute of Technology in 1998 with a BS in Biology, spent a year in Boston, and then had returned to Caltech as a PhD candidate in developmental biology. That’s when she had her first child, Isabella. Bella’s birth didn’t change Sudipta’s plans – she thought she’d take a long maternity leave then return to graduate school. Then, her daughter Brooklyn came along. With two small children, Sudipta found herself less interested in biology as she was in parenting. And for the first time, she found that she had stories to tell, stories she wanted to share with her daughters, and she decided to try to get published. After a half-dozen rejections, in 2003, Sudipta sold her first story to a children’s magazine, Highlights for Children. Using her science background as a springboard, Sudipta began writing nonfiction for children, including Championship Science Fair Projects, Last Minute Science Fair Projects, AIDS, and Autism. She branched out into other nonfiction, including biographies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Jane Goodall, and altogether, Sudipta has written 18 nonfiction books for kids.

R. Gregory ChristieIllustrator and freelance artist Richard Gregory Christie was born on July 26, 1971 in Plainfield, New Jersey to Ludra V. St. Amant Christie and Gerard Adoltus Christie. Raised by his mother, a Louisiana Creole, and his father, a Jamaican pharmacist, Christie was raised in the Scotch Plains community of Plainfield near the Jerseyland Resort. He attended St. Bartholomew the Apostle Elementary School where he demonstrated a talent for art early on. In 1985, Christie worked for Commercial Art and Supply while he attended Fanwood High School. Graduating in 1989, he enrolled in New York City’s School for Visual Arts (SVA). His first illustration was published by the Star Ledger in the summer of 1990. In 1993, Christie graduated from SVA with his B.F.A. degree. In 1994, Christie illustrated the album cover of Justice System’s Summer in the City. Soon, his work graced the covers of jazz labels from all over the world, including Joe Sample’s Old Places Old Faces Warner Brothers, 1996; George Benson’s A Song for my Brother Giant Step Records, 1997; and Coltrane The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings GRP Impulse, 1997. Christie’s’ illustrations also appeared in numerous publications in Europe, Asia and America. In 1996, he illustrated Lucille Clifton’s The Palm of My Heart; Poetry by African American Children. The book won a Coretta Scott King Award honor from the American Library Association and a Reading Magic Award from Parenting magazine. Christie has illustrated the biographies of many other significant historical and cultural figures, including Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, and Sojourner Truth. In 2006, he won a Coretta Scott King Award honor for Brothers in Hope ; The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, and for illustrating Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth.
Currently, Christie is a regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine.