Father of Black History Month
Dr. Carter G Woodson, Wouldn't He Be Pleased!
Tags: Black History, Books, videos, audio books, Carter G. Woodson,
Posted: 2010-02-22 16:13:59 By: Joanne Oppenheim


As books and videos of 2009-2010 arrived in our office, we couldnít help but think how pleased Dr. Woodson would have been to see the quantity and quality of books, audios, and videos that celebrate black history, publications that have been awarded Oppenheim Toyportfolio awards in the past year.



2009 Award
Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride
(by Andrea Davis Pinkney/ illus. Brian Pinkney, Disney Jump At the Sun $16.99 Score: )

The story of Sojourner Truth is told here in a lively storyteller voice that addresses young listeners with warmth and illustrations that match the spirited text. With her "hands like hams" and size 12 shoes that could stomp on beetles...this Sojourner Truth comes across as larger than life!  She is like a folktale hero--but one who was no work of fiction. The Pinkneys have captured the story of this giant of a woman in words and images that bring her to life for a new generation of children who will come to know more about this legend who fought the chains of slavery and the rights of women.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.




2009 Award
Ruby Bridges Goes to School
(by Ruby Bridges, Scholastic $3.99 Score: )

Normal 0 0 1 116 372 372 53 813 11.1282 0 0 0

Using language that developing readers can handle and photographs that convey that this is a true story, Ruby Bridges tells her remarkable story. It was she who braved the segregated schoolhouse with federal marshals in the battle for civil liberties. Using archival Life magazine photos by Margaret Bourke-White and others, this is a handsome little book that will surely be used during Black History month in schools and/or as a treasure in the family library.  You can hear Ruby Bridges herself read the story on Scholasticís website.


Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.




2007 Award
Henry's Freedom Box
(by Ellen Levine/illus. by Kadir Nelson, Scholastic $16.99 Score: ) Told with an economy of words, this moving story does not miss a beat in capturing the powerful story of a slave family torn apart and the courage of a man who was determined to be free. This tale of the Underground Railroad is based on the true story of a man who mailed himself to freedom in a wooden box and lived to tell of it. 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2007.




2009 Award
John Brown, His Fight for Freedom
(by John Hendrix, Abrams Books $18.95 Score: )

Although the mournful folk song of John Brown’s Body is familiar to many, the story of his fight to free the slaves is often over simplified to the events at Harper’s Ferry. This account, illustrated with larger than life folk legend style paintings, tells his story with greater clarity than most. His struggle to convince others to give up slavery turned violent and John Brown became a violent rebel with a cause that others could not support. Hendrix chose not to skip over the many layers of this story and as a result his narrative might have fit a small chapter book better. The content is heavy for a picture book, but well worth sharing with youngsters who are about to study the Civil War. The problem is that many older students who are ready for this story often resist reading or listening to picture books.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2009.




2009 Award
The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg
(by Rodman Philbrick, Scholastic $16.99 Score: )

17 year-old Harold P. Figg is too young to serve in the Union army, but that doesn't matter to his greedy uncle, who lies about the boy's age. That was how he could collect a handsome sum of money from a family that could afford to pay for someone else to fight in place of a drafted son. Poor Homer P. Figg has always depended on his big brother Harold. How will he survive without him? So it is Homer who undertakes the mission of running away to rescue his dear brother. And what a journey this is! Every chapter crackles with lively characters and adventures that keep the pages turning and the reader both amused and amazed. Colorful passages give the reader a picture of the 1860's with its slavery, abolitionists, sooty trains and bloody warfront amputations and terrible death toll.  But the research does not slow the pace of the story. Homer, a fabulous storyteller, hardly needs to embellish the wild adventures he gets into with thieves, spies, and dreamers. When he leaves Maine he has no way of knowing if or how he will find Harold; nor could he expect to ride a ferry, a train, a hot air balloon and end up on the front lines of the Battle of Gettysburg. Homer P. Figg quickly takes the reader into his world, cheering for a happy ending while wishing we were not finished with this lovable rascal! It's historic fiction at its best! 9 & up. 

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.




2009 Award
Testing the Ice, A True Story About Jackie Robinson
(By Sharon Robinson/ illus. by Kadir Nelson, Scholastic $16.99 Score: )

Written by Jackie Robinson's daughter, this is a true story of the famous baseball player, who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball and won almost every award known, but despite his athletic prowess, surprisingly, he did not know how to swim. When his kids wanted to go skating on the lake behind their house, he had the courage to be the one to test the ice. Glorious illustrations add much to this lovely metaphor for the courage the beloved Jackie Robinson showed in his early years as the first African American to play in the Major League.  

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.




2008 Award
March On!
(by Christine King Farris/illus. by London Ladd, Scholastic $17.99 Score: )

School aged kids grows up hearing the words of Martin Luther King's stirring I Have a Dream speech, much as students of earlier generations heard the words of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. But, how often have they heard the story of that day, how the memorable day unfolded. Although his sister, Christine King Farris was in Atlanta with their aging parents,she has told that story in this picture book. It is another way to introduce young people to that moment in history that has become iconic. Given the nature of a picture book, it is a little like a sound bite that leaves out the events that led to that moment. That said, it is still a moving snapshot of a day that will continue to hold a special place in the history of the civil rights movement.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.




2009 Award
(by Walter Dean Meyers, read by a full cast, Listening Library  $25 Score: )

A dramatization of events surrounding the Civil War draft riots when rich families could pay a poor Irish immigrant $300 to take a son's place in the draft. New York City exploded with riots. Fifteen-year old Claire, the daughter of an African American father and an Irish mother is caught in the city's strife and her own sense of identity. A spirited dramatization that brings a chapter in our history to life. With a cast of more than 20 players, plus music and sound effects, this is a story from a distinguished author. Walter Dean Meyers, as always, addresses real issues of race, class, and mob violence with well researched facts and unflinching honesty. 3 CD's run about 2 hours and 36 minutes. 10 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.


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