Juneteenth: Our Day of Freedom (Step into Reading) by author Sharon Dennis Wyeth and illustrator Kim Holt

Reading Age: 5 – 8

Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Abraham Lincoln presented the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 freeing slaves in southern confederate states. Many slaves did not realize they were free. People living in rural or isolated areas had difficulty receiving news. Unlike today, communications in the 1800s travelled slowly. Sometimes slave owners intentionally kept the news from slaves so slaves continued to provide free labor. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger presented General Order No.3 in Galveston, Texas that slaves were notified of their freedom. This early reader discusses the history of Juneteenth for children learning to read. Illustrations are filled with emotion and events pre and post Juneteenth’s beginning.

Moving Forward: From Space-Age Rides to Civil Rights Sit-Ins with Airman Alton Yates by author Chris Barton and iillustrator Steffi Walthall

Age Range: 6 – 10 years

Grade Level: 1- 5

Publisher: Beach Lane Books

Publication Date: January 11, 2022

When Alton Yates was a youngster in Florida, his neighbor, Mr. Jeffcoat talked to him about his days serving his country in World War I. When Alton got to junior high school, Air Force Captain Daniel James visited Alton’s school and discussed being an American warrior. Alton was impressed with the fact that the Air Force was the first armed forces to be integrated. He enlisted and met Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Stapp who was involved in research. This captivated Alton. Alton became one of the subjects who rode in machines to find out their impact on humans. After 4 years in the Air Force Alton’s family needed him at home. When Alton returned to Florida, he found that overt racism still existed. Jim Crow thrived. Alton got involved with the NAACP Youth Council and participated in lunch counter sit-ins. This picture book biography is another fascinating perspective to add to a libraries collection. It is beautifully illustrated with large illustrations which are wonderful to view when in a group. Range of emotions are easily understood. Included at the end of this book are a timeline, author and illustrator notes and selected sources.

The Teachers March!: How Selma’s Teachers Changed History by authors Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace and illustrator Charly Palmer

Reading Age: 7 – 10 years

Grade Level: 2-5

Publisher: Calkins Creek

Publication Date: September 29, 2020

In the 1960s when blacks were not allowed to vote but were allowed to teach about the Constitution of the United States in the segregated south, Reverend F. D. Reese, also a high school science teacher, wanted change. He was familiar with being chased away from the courthouse when he and protesters marched there. Frustrated, he had an idea to get teachers to march for voting rights. After all, teachers were looked highly upon in the community. Educators feared loosing their jobs however with so many of them marching, could they all be fired? Especially when marching was against the law in Selma, Alabama. A visit from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assured marchers that they were on the right path. During the Civil Rights Era many groups marched. The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. My Book Eyes liked the drama and tension in the text and illustrations that beckoned pages to turn. Included in this nonfiction picture book are an author’s note, illustrator’s note, Timeline, Selected Bibliography, a list of In-Person Visits and a Learn More About the Teachers’ March section.

Shirley Chisolm Is a Verb by author Veronica Chambers and illustrator Rachelle Baker

Age Range: 4 years – 8 years

Publisher: Dial Books

Publication Date: July 28, 2020

This picture book biography enlightens the audience about the life of political figure Shirley Chisolm. She was the daughter of immigrant parents who like many, had to work hard to purchase a piece of the American dream. Unfortunately, in order to continue with their arduous work schedules, Shirley’s parents sent Shirley and her two sisters to live with their maternal grandparent in Barbados. After 6 years, Shirley returned to Brooklyn, New York and attended public schools. She went to college and became a preschool teacher. Wanting to cast her net wider in helping others, she was instrumental in beginning head start programs. Shirley found that entering the political arena was where she could influence society the most. Ms. Chisolm was elected to New York State Assembly then to Congress. She was the Democratic Party nomination for United States president. Shirley was an action oriented person who helped make changes for the betterment of the less fortunate. Throughout this book are verbs highlighted in blue that will improve vocabulary and lead to interesting projects. Illustrations are realistic and match the tone of the book.

BUZZING WITH QUESTIONS: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by author Janice N. Harrington and illustrator Theodore Taylor III

Age Range: 7 years – 10 years

Publisher: Calkins Creek

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

In this nonfiction picture book biography, readers and listeners learn about Charles Henry Turner, a person who based his career on studying insects called an entomologist. Dr. Turner was born in 1867 in Ohio, two years after the end of slavery in the United States. He was gifted with the desire to learn about bugs and did extensive research with spiders, ants, and bees to name a few. He obtained a PhD at the University of Chicago and published work substantially. Additionally, he had interests in civil rights and education. His career appears to have been limited due to racism. He became a high school teacher after a short career in higher education. Along with the insightful text, the illustrations ignite interests in insect behavior and scientific experiments. Included are: an author’s note, timeline, bibliography, source note and archival images.

Ice Breaker: How Mabel Fairbanks Changed Figure Skating by author Rose Vina and illustrator Claire Almon

Ice breaker

Age Range: 5 – 7 years

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Publication Date: October 1, 2019

In this picture book biography readers meet Mabel Fairbanks, an African American from Florida. She moves to New York City at 8 years old to live with her brother. That experience is short lived and Mabel finds herself without a home by 9 years old. A family gives Mabel a chance to move in with them and babysit. Viewing ice skaters through a window intrigues Mabel. She saves money, buys skates and teaches herself to skate. When the weather warms, she goes to an indoor ice skating rink to skate however she is denied admission due to her skin color. Eventually she is given opportunities to skate at the rink but only when white ice skaters are not using it. She gets coached and is a very good skater but racism destroys her chances of participating in activities that could lead to the Olympics. Mabel performs on television and in different countries however racism is everywhere. Her career path leads her to coach those interested in ice skating. She plays a significant role in fighting for equality for ice skaters. My Book Eyes are amazed at how many famous ice skaters Mabel Fairbanks coached. Illustrations of ice skaters are dynamic. Included in the back of the book are sections called: About Mabel Fairbanks, Glossary of Figure Skating Terms and Selected Sources.

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by author Dee Romito and illustrator Laura Freeman

PiesAge Range: 6 – 9 years

Publisher: little bee books

Publucation Date: Novenber 6, 2018

This picture book biography sheds light on Georgia Gilmore, a cook, who made a significant contribution to the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott by preparing meals. She worked collectively with others who were interested in raising money to purchase vehicles and fuel so that the Black community could still travel in Alabama while seeking justice by boycotting public transportation. After she testified in court about the mistreatment she experienced by a bus driver, Georgia Gilmore was fired from her job. She opened a home based restaurant. All people loved her cooking. Dr. King and other civil rights leaders often ate at Georgia’s. Illustrations are large with high contrasting colors which makes this a terrific book for children to view in a group setting. Included is an author’s note and a recipe for Georgia Gilmore’s Homemade Pound Cake. My Book Eyes finds it interesting to read about how different people worked to create civil rights changes.