by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013
Ages 5-7, Grades K and up
Parent’s Choice Award * Amelia Bloomer Project * ReadBoston Best Read Aloud
Have you ever invented something cool but were too afraid to show anyone? That’s how Rosie Revere feels all the time. Rosie is a creative girl who likes to invent new gadgets for her family and then hide them under her bed. She is too afraid of failing or having people think they are not very good.
One day her great-great aunt, Rosie the Riveter, visits and teaches little Rosie that the only time you fail is when you quit trying something new. Not everything always works the way you want it to at the beginning. You just need to keep trying and fixing and NOT be afraid to show off your inventions.
A great tie-in with Rosie the Riveter history, this book reminds us never to give up on our dreams or things we love.
by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2014
Ages 5-8, Grades K-3
ISBN: 13: 978-0399166150
2015 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award * 2015 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award New Writer Honor * NPR Best Book of 2014 * Amazon Best Book of 2014 – Ages 6-8 * Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2014 * Essence Magazine Best Children’s Book of 2014
In a stirring love letter to young dancers, author and ballerina Misty Copeland welds the seeming divide between the impossible and possible. “The space between you and me is longer than forever,” a young girl bewails about the distance between her own dance dream and the achievements of prima ballerina, Copeland.
Copeland, who began ballet at age thirteen, shares how she struggled to find her place in the world, even within her own family. Through dance she connected to her true self – body, spirit, and soul. What ballet books reflected back to her, however, was that ballerinas weren’t “me, brown with tendrils.” With mentorship from African American ballerina Raven Wilkinson, Copeland forged her own path and transformed ballet.
Firebird speaks to girls (and boys!) who dance under starlight and moonbeams, who hold a dream in their hearts and souls, yet do not yet believe they can cross the divide. Here, Copeland shows them that “forever is not so far away.”
by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Straub
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015
Picture book, ages 5-8, Grades K – 3
Kirkus Best Books of 2015 * Jane Addams Book Award honor 2016
Saya’s mother has been arrested at work by the “immigration police” and sent to a detention center because she has no papers. Until Papa and the attorney can clear the matter, Saya is without her mother. Short visits are of some comfort, but Saya finds that Mama’s voice fades away from her memory too quickly.
Mama begins recording cassette tapes of Haitian folktales, so that Saya can have a bedtime story. Mama’s voice fills Saya’s heart and dreams with images of soursoup and nightingales, rainbows and sky travels.
As Saya watches her parents struggle to keep the family together and to secure Mama’s papers, she decides that she has her own story to tell. Saya’s story might just have the power to bring Mama home.
Separation with little hope for reunion is every family’s nightmare. Saya misses her mother desperately, and she never gives up hope. Through her parents’ examples of advocating for justice, Saya realizes that her own strong voice has the power to make change.
by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca
Neal Porter Books, Roaring Brook Press 2010
Picture book, non-fiction, ages 7 and up
Robert Silbert Honor Award * NCTE Orbis Pictus Award * ALA Notable Books 2010 * Numerous best books lists for 2010
Additional formats: ebook and audio
This historical picture book is about how Appalachian Spring, one of the most famous dances of all times, came to be. It is a dance about the pioneer movement, and it was a collaboration between Martha Graham, Aaron Copland, and Isamu Noguchi. Martha had to persevere through audiences who didn’t necessarily understand the new language she was crafting in American dance. Martha Graham Dance was the first integrated dance company in the US. Appalachian spring, which earned Copland the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1944.
by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Frank Morrison
Lee & Low Books, 2014
Picture book, non-fiction
Aages 7 and up
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Honor * Notable Children’s Book, American Library Association (ALA) * Listed on multiple “best books” lists
This is the story of how a little girl born in 1926 fights racism and sexism to become one of our country’s most accomplished musicians.
Melba Loretta Liston was a famed jazz trombone player and arranger who created gorgeous rhythms, harmonies, and melodies in songs for jazz greats like Randy Weston, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Quincy Jones, to name just a few.
The illustrations are delicious. I’d pair this with Acoustic Rooster by Kwame Alexander for a summer study on jazz.
by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Candlewick Press, 2015
Picture book, non-fiction, poetry
Ages 9 and up, Grades 4-7
Caldecott Honor illustration 2016 * Coretta Scott King New Talent award for Illustration 2016 * Silbert Informational Book Award 2016 * Marion Vannett Ridway Award Honor * NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts * Bank Street College Flora Steiglitz Straus Award * Amelia Bloomer List * CCBC Choices and multiple best books lists of 201
The first-person poetry of Carole Boston Weatherford and tactile collage of Ekua Holmes combine for a perfect-pitch picture book biography of Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.
Voice of Freedom transports readers to the Mississippi Delta of Hamer’s childhood and into the heart of Hamer’s own journey, a sometimes harsh journey at the mercy of discriminatory, oppressive policies and practices in America. Hammer quit school at sixth grade to pick cotton with her family. She was later sterilized by a doctor (without her knowledge or consent) while undergoing tumor surgery, Hamer not only survived, she rose up to become a driving force in the fight for equality.
Often on Girls of Summer, we celebrate stories of those who have changed history as children. This book shows us a woman whose childhood and life unfolded to prepare and strengthen her voice to boom forth, at middle age, in a song of protest and triumph and remembering.
by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings,
Illustrated by Shelagh McNichols
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014
Picture book, Memoir
ISBN-10: 0803741073/ ISBN-13: 978-0803741072
Additional formats: E-book
Honors: ALA’s Rainbow List
This is the story of Jazz Jennings, a girl who loves pink and silver and green. A girl who likes to dance and sing and do back flips. A girl who likes to pretend she’s a pop star or a mermaid. A strong girl who was born with the body of a boy. I Am Jazz recounts the early childhood experience of Jazz Jennings, a teen advocate and co-founder of the Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation, who felt like a girl born into a boy’s body from the time she was two-years-old.
“Pretending I was a boy felt like a lie,” Jazz writes. At first, her parents are confused when Jazz tells them of her feelings. But when the family meets a doctor who teaches them the word “transgender,” everything starts to change.
“Be who you are. We love you no matter what,” are words every child deserves to hear. I Am Jazz is a perfect title to discuss concepts such as acceptance and belonging and will make an important addition to the family or school library. – Gigi