I’m sure many of you are familiar with Ruby Bridges. She is a civil rights activist who made history when she was just six years old. In 1960, she was the first Black child to attend an all white school in New Orleans, inciting protests from the white communities. This is Your Time is her most recent book.
In this book, Mrs. Bridges writes a letter to her readers, recounting her experience and encouraging young readers to participate in the fight for racial equality. She poignantly compares the unrest in our country now to the unrest in our country then.
Every other page features a black and white photo perfectly paired with the message. For example, on one page, Mrs. Bridges speaks about parents protesting and removing their children from school, while the opposite page features a picture of parents laughing while holding up a coffin with a black baby doll in it. Many things have changed in 60 years, but it is still critical that we teach our children the importance of equality.
With the news of our new President Elect, I have begun to notice an uptick in conversations (especially among white people) about unity and hope. While I absolutely support the idea of unity and hope, I worry we may already be becoming complacent. I worry we are already forgetting how hard-earned these victories have come. I worry we may not be acknowledging the communities who fought hardest to make change.
For me this book represents the kind of unity and hope we need as a nation. This book feels like an action. This book feel like a seed I can plant. This book tells every young person who reads it that they too can be like Ruby Bridges. They too can be brave and stand on the right side of history. I can’t think of a better way to bring our nation together than to teach our children to love and defend one another.
This is Your Time is being released today and would make the perfect gift for any young peacemaker in your life. It can be purchased just about anywhere books are sold, including at my Bookshop Page. (Please note this is an affiliate link, and I will receive a small commission of any purchases made using this link. This commission allows me to maintain this website and continue to bring reviews to you. Any support is greatly appreciated.)
I would like to thank Random House Kids for providing this review copy, and the hope it has brought me.
A few weeks ago, my mother stopped by for a visit and surprised us with a board book. My mom obviously knows about my passion for building an inclusive library for my son, and likes to contribute her own picks occasionally, which I am forever grateful for. This particular book was called Little Heroes of Color: 50 Who Made a BIG Difference by David Heredia. It’s a great nonfiction selection for children highlighting lots of different POC (People of Color) who changed the world. My only real complaint about this book is that every person highlighted only has one sentence dedicated to their accomplishments. I was left wanting so much more!
So in honor of Nonfiction November, I decided to take matters into my own hands and locate children’s biographies for heroes featured in the book. These biographies are all still a bit over Sully’s head, but I definitely plan on picking them up so we can learn more about each hero’s accomplishments as he gets older.
If you’re looking to add a bit of Nonfiction to your little readers library you can pick these titles up at my Bookshop Affiliate Shop. Please know that Mutually Inclusive does receive a small commission on purchases made through this link (and the links for each title on this post). This commission allows me to purchase more books to review and share with you.
Born in the Jim Crow era in Durham, North Carolina, Ernest Smalls grew up to be both a professional football player and an artist. This picture book shares with us both his struggles and his successes throughout his life. I love that this story tells children they don’t have to choose between arts and sports. They can absolutely enjoy and be successful at both!
Henry’s Freedom Box tells the story of Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who escaped slavery in a very creative way. Henry was torn from his mother at a young age. He grew up to be married and started a family of his own, only to have them sold away from him. In the end, Henry comes up with a plan to mail himself to freedom, earning him the nickname Henry “Box” Brown.
S.D Nelson, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, brings us the story of Sitting Bull. Told through Sitting Bull’s voice, this book focuses on the injustices faced by the Lakota tribes throughout our nation’s history. Just a note: this one is recommended for a slightly older audience (middle grade) as the illustrations do depict death and violence.
Joseph Boulogne Chevalier De Saint George
Before There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georgeby Lesa Cline Ransome Illustrated by James Ransome
This book chronicles Joseph Boulogne’s life from a plantation in West Indies to studying music in Paris, and his rise to fame in Europe. Joseph overcomes great adversity and finds success as the first black composer. A great story for any music lover, and a great reminder that the classical music world isn’t as white as we’re led to believe.
Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman to be elected to the United States Congress. This picture book touches on Shirley’s early life, but it truly highlights her many accomplishments, including creating the Head Start and WIC programs, and her work to help create the Congressional Black Caucus. This is a fantastic pick to discuss determination, and speaking up for yourself. I also LOVE the illustrations in this one. They really gave Shirley a personality throughout the book.
This is the picture book biography of Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman and Native American woman to receive a pilot’s license, This book chronicles the famous aviatrix’s life from her childhood in Texas all the way to her death in Jacksonville, Florida. My only complaint was that I felt the book glossed over Bessie’s Native American heritage. Her father’s “Indian” heritage is mentioned, but only in passing.
This stunning biography is told through a collection of poems. Written from Fannie Lou Hamer’s perspective, these poems detail her journey from a sharecropper’s daughter in Sunflower County, Mississippi to a renowned civil rights activist. This book does not shy away from the events of the Civil Rights Movement, but details the injustices that freedom fighters faced during these times. Note: There is a racial slur used in this book.
This is a lovely little biography of Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. This one isn’t too heavy on history or Maya’s childhood, but reads as an inspiring story for any budding little artists or architects.
Dr. Ronald McNair was a Black NASA astronaut and physicist who lost his life in the Challenger mission. This picture book relates a fictionalized version of a real-life event from Dr. McNair’s childhood in South Carolina. In this book, Ron wants to check books out from the library, which is only allowed for white children. This is a great book to engage children in conversations about civil disobedience, and help them understand that unjust “rules” can and should be challenged.
Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was a Black Puerto Rican historian, collector, and writer who was determined to discover and share Black history and achievements. This book contains a collection of 20 poems detailing his quest for knowledge that eventually led to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and his lifelong fight against the whitewashing of history, but it also relates much of the Black history he discovered along the way.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor is the first Hispanic and Latina member of the Supreme Court of The United States. This autobiography details her childhood, specifically highlighting her love of reading. Justice Sotomayor shares how her love of reading impacted her life, and lead her to her career as a lawyer, judge, and Supreme Court Justice.
Jim Thorpe was an accomplished athlete and the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal. This biographic picture book discusses his childhood on the Sac and Fox Indian Reservation , specifically focusing on how his education influenced his path to his athletic achievements. A great reminder for young readers of the importance of education.
I wish I could share biographies for all 50 heroes mentioned in Little Heroes of Color: 50 Who Made a BIG Difference but unfortunately, I couldn’t find one for everyone. There are a few others I hope to share another day, along with some other great biographies I found featuring heroes not mentioned in David Heredia’s collection. I hope you found one or two books to add to your readers’ shelves.
Have you read any of these biographies? Have you read other biographies about any of the heroes in Little Heroes of Color: 50 Who Made a BIG Difference? Be sure to comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!