A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The book contains photographs of Black Americans in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The everyday images, many of folks dressed in their finest clothes or enjoying leisure activities, are different from the images that are typically shown of Black Americans during this time period. The archival photographs create a new narrative. The back of the book explains the author's inspiration and shares information about each image.
You need to know where you've been to know where you're going. There is power and comfort in understanding the past. Black Americans have a rich history that goes beyond enslavement.
Positive Role Models
Although most of the people in the portraits are unknown, they represent a feeing of courage. It took courage and hope for Black Americans to live their lives without fear during this time period. They were proud of who they were, and had the free choice to sit for a portrait.
The book's archival portraits show Black Americans from across of the country of different ages, skin tones, and religions. The portrait subjects have various interests, abilities, and life stories. The author is African American.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dear Yesteryear is a historical picture book dedicated to honoring African Americans of the past and connecting their story with the present. Author and historical researcher, Kimberly Annece Henderson (The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story) was inspired to create the book after starting a archival photography project on Instagram, honoring countless Black Americans whose whereabouts are unknown or deemed unimportant due to slavery. This collection of photos from the late 1800s and early 1900s is paired with a handwritten, poetic letter recognizing the stories of Black Americans. Themes include celebrating the past, having courage, and appreciating life's small joys. Young readers can observe details in the book's many pictures, while older readers can appreciate the honesty and curiosity of each page of the letter. Beautiful hand lettering is done by Ciara LeRoy.
Is It Any Good?
This is an important book that helps to shift the narrative about Black Americans in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Dear Yesteryear illustrates the beauty of Black Americans and celebrates their presence and contributions to society -- despite the oppressive climate of slavery and segregation. Readers can see similarities between the everyday tasks depicted in the photographs, and life today. The story is powerful. Young readers may have questions about their own ancestors, making this a great read for children and adult alike.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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