You really need to get this book, for the children you know and for yourself. You will learn something, and you will be inspired!
Biographies are my favorite kind of history — always more fun and memorable than lists of battles and elections. As a child, I read probably hundreds of biographies published in the Childhood of Famous Americans series. Those highly entertaining books gave me my first understanding of American history from all sorts of perspectives. I particularly focused on the books about women who were famous for what they themselves had done, as opposed to those whose fame derived from their husbands, inspired me to think about what was possible. Their stories were really important to me.
Vashti Harrison’s wonderful Little Leaders — Bold Women in Black History is similarly important and inspiring. Little Leaders is written for children, but everyone should read it. Really. I guarantee you will learn something and you will be impressed. I wish this book had been around when my daughters were young because it is designed to spawn countless conversations about the struggles these women faced, the difficulties they surmounted, the sources of their inspirations and then their amazing contributions. Harrison offers up capsule biographies and appealing illustrations of 40 remarkable black women. The title Little Leaders, together with the simple illustrations of these women as girls, make the point that all the featured women started out as girls, and that their childhood interests often led directly to their later achievements. These stories also provide lots of good background information about what life what like for these women and others of their time. The happy result is that the reader ends up knowing a lot more than just what happened to a particular individual. This is such a good way to inform children about their history and to provide context for their own times and their own opportunities and responsibilities.
Harrison includes famous women, as well as women who may not be so famous but clearly deserve to be. It is no criticism of the book that I kept thinking of other black women who might have been included. In fact the books just made me think of a whole host of people that deserve to be better known and celebrated.
This book belongs in every child’s library.