Wednesday, February 20, 2019

NF Picture Book Wednesday - A Man Who Made History

Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  Thanks to her hosting and sharing and those who add their posts discover and celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books!  I always learn from these books, am happy that they are more and more available today for children, really for everyone.

As written above, I am grateful for these NF picture books telling us readers about the history we did not know before. This time, I'm sharing about the man who sowed the seeds of Black History Month by creating Negro History Week (2nd week of February) in 1926. They chose that week because it encompassed the birthdays of Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. Sadly, I admit that although I was in school long after that year, I don't remember anyone celebrating that week. It became official in 1976, but the first celebration occurred in 1970 at Kent State. That information and more is in a Wikipedia article here

        Thanks to Deborah Hopkinson and Don Tate for telling this inspiring story in their new picture book. Carter was the second African-American to earn a PhD in history from Harvard University. (The first was W.E.B. DuBois.) He was the first and only Black American whose parents had been slaves to receive a doctorate in history.

        That reference to Woodson's education is really the "middle" of his life. He was born in 1875, ten years after the end of the Civil War. His parents had been slaves, scrapped together money for a small piece of land, made sure that Carter and his siblings got as much education as possible. Carter learned to read and when scraps of newspapers were found (sometimes wrapped around food), he read them to his father. His father loved that part, but Carter also remembered the family stories, too. He had to stop work to help the family, went to work in the mines and there met a man named Oliver Jones, and Oliver did something important: he asked Carter not only to read to him and the other miners, but also research and find more information on the subjects that interested them. “My interest in penetrating the past of my people was deepened,” Carter wrote. His curiosity and persistence led him back out of the mines, back to school and onward. One professor at Harvard told him that Black people had no history. According to this book, Carter spoke up. "No people lacked a history," he said. The professor challenged Carter to prove him wrong. For the rest of his life, Carter did just that.
          In addition to showing Carter's life story, Don Tate includes illustrations of important figures from African and African-American history, sometimes adding newsprint to the pages that echo the theme that underpins Carter's life story. Early in the book, there are a few stories from Carter's family, too, about his father and his mother. It's an illuminating book that I wish I'd had at the beginning of the month, to start a search for stories of more African-Americans. It certainly is a book that will inspire further research by readers to know more.
         There is an author’s note, illustrator’s note, resources, and a bibliography.

Carter establishes Negro History Week, later becoming Black History month. I shared about Ida B. Wells in this post last week, and here she is again!

Carter's father telling the family's stories.


  1. Replies
    1. It is a wonderful book, Earl. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  2. This looks amazing. Off to put it on reserve. Thanks, Linda!

    1. Yep, it's a great book, Laura. Enjoy it when you get it!


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