Hooray, it's time for Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10! Get your library card out, because this is a great opportunity to find out about new nonfiction books.
I had a lot of different themes bouncing around in my head this year (most inspired by the current political situation), but I finally settled on Ten People Who Stood Up & Made a Difference, especially when facing unfair or discriminatory situations.
Now in its fifth year, Nonfiction Picture Book 10 for 10 (#nf10for10) is co-hosted by Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning, Julie Balen of Write at the Edge, and Cathy Mere of Reflect & Refine. This year all activity is collected on the Picture Book 10 for 10 Community.
- Top 10 Picture Books Featuring Diverse Characters (in books that are not just about diversity) #pb10for10
- Top 10 Diverse Picture Book Biographies of Artists #nf10for10
- Top 10 Must Have Picture Books to Read Aloud #pb10for10
- Top 10 Nonfiction Folktales for Reading Aloud #nf10for10
- Top 10 Picture Books for Middle School #pb10for10
10 Folks Who Stood Up and Made a Difference
1840s: Sarah Roberts. The First Step: how one girl put segregation on trial (2016) by Susan E. Goodman and illustrated by E.B. Lewis [long listed for the Jane Addams Award]. Sarah was the only African-American girl in her all-white Boston school ... until she was thrown out. She and her parents fought all the way to the Supreme Court, becoming the very first case to challenge the legality of segregated schools (and the first case argued by an African-American lawyer before the Supreme Court). They may have lost the case, but it was the "first step" on the road towards Brown vs. the Board of Education.
1903: Mother Jones. On Our Way to Oyster Bay: Mother Jones and her march for children's rights (2016) by Monica Kulling and illustrated by Felicita Sala. This book focuses on Mother Jones and her children's march - her effort to draw attention to the plight of child laborers at a time when newspapers were in the pockets of the factory owners. Although the march was unsuccessful, in that president Teddy Roosevelt refused to meet with them, it succeeded in its goal of bringing the rights of children into the national dialogue.
1909: Clara Lemlich. Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 (2013) by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Clara may have come to the US from Ukraine without a knowledge of English or her rights under the US Constitution, but she proved a quick learner. Not satisfied with the long hours and working conditions, she helped organize the largest walkout of female workers the country had ever seen and paved the way for fairer labor practices.
1939: Marian Anderson. When Marian Sang (2002) by Pam Muñoz Ryan and illustrated by Brian Selznick [a Caldecott Honor book]. I knew the story of singer Marian Anderson performing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, but this picture book biography does a great job of setting the context. Plus, those incredible illustrations!
1940s: Vivien Thomas. Tiny Stitches: the life of medical pioneer Vivien Thomas (2016) by Gwendolyn Hooks and illustrated by Colin Boolman. As a research assistant, Vivien Thomas pioneered the procedure for saving the lives of "blue babies" through the first-ever successful open-heart surgery on infants. But due to the racism and discrimination of the time, these findings were published without his name attached, leading to Nobel Prize nominations - for his colleagues. This picture book and a longer academic work are seeking to bring him the credit he deserved.
1947: Sylvia Mendez. Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation (2015) by Duncan Tonatiuh [a Pura Belpré Honor book and a Siebert Honor book]. This is an important book that sheds light on a lesser known side of the Civil Rights Movement: the segregation of children of Mexican and Hispanic descent, especially on the West Coast. I think it is critical for kids today to understand that discrimination is not just a white/black issue and that many groups have been treated differently for many "reasons." The Mendez case led to the desegregation of California and helped pave the way for Brown vs. the Board of Education.
1960: David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, and Ezell Blair Jr. Sit-In: how four friends stood up by sitting down (2010) by Andrea Davis Pickney and illustrated by Brian Pickney. The Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in was one in a long string of important moments in the Civil Rights Movement, and this book is one of my favorites. Told in a rolicking poetry style, the Pickney's infuse the story with a call to action that the reader can't help but hear.
1967: Richard and Mildred Loving. The Case for Loving: the fight for interracial marriage (2015) by Selina Alko and illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. The story of Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter and their fight for interracial marriage is presented very much from today's point-of-view but also offers children background about how this fight came to be. The author's note draws the natural connection between the history of this fight and the current battle for recognition of same sex marriages and also shares some of the authors' backstory as an interracial couple. (You can read my review of the new documentary novel about the case here.)
1970s: Wangari Maathai (2004 Noble Peace Prize). Seeds of Change by Jen Cullerton Johnson and illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler, Planting the Trees of Kenya by Claire A. Nivola, and Wangari's Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter. These three biographies focus on the incredible work on Noble Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. I used to prefer sharing Planting the Trees of Kenya with my students because it goes a little more in-depth about her actions and some of the difficulties she faced, but Seeds of Change is my new favorite. They are all great books and emphasize the same lesson that one committed person can make a difference in their environment.
1995: Iqbal, 2012: Malala Yousafzai. Malala: a brave girl from Pakistan and Iqbal: a brave boy from Pakistan (2014) by Jeanette Winter. This book masterfully combines the stories of Malala Yousafzai and Iqbal Masih, by letting you read either story, depending on which cover you choose, and having them both meet up in the middle. This device works especially well to introduce children to Iqbal, a former child laborer, who was killed for speaking out against child slavery and debt bondage. The continuation of Malala's work and mission lend a feeling of hope to his story as well.
What will YOU stand for?