A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know, by Carole Boston Weatherford, is a lyrical look at the life of this iconic leader, who began life in a poor family of Mississippi sharecroppers, endured racial injustice throughout her life, and became a voting rights activist in the 1960s. Mixed-media collages won illustrator Ekua Holmes a 2016 Caldecott Honor and the 2016 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award. Through poems written in the first-person voice, Hamer serves as the filter through which readers see horrific acts of racism, experience unfair work practices, and observe her incredible strength. Parents should be prepared to discuss inequality and the rampant acts of violence and racist killings intended to destroy the civil rights movement, including multiple assassinations. Hamer's story also includes the fact that she was sterilized against her will in 1961 as a part of a government program that targeted poor and primarily minority women. Racist language is harsh in places, such as
What's the story?
Fannie Lou Hamer is sick and tired of being sick and tired. Black people are not being treated fairly, and she sees firsthand the effects that racism has on her family and the people around her. She experiences an awakening when she's in her 40s and is asked to help motivate African Americans to become voters. It's the first time she realizes Blacks even have the right to vote. She goes on to become the spirit and the voice of the civil rights movement and helps change the country for the better.
Is it any good?
Through poetry, the lyrics to traditional gospel spirituals, and mixed-media quilt-like collages, Hamer's life and experiences jump off the page in this stunning picture-book biography. Readers see her move back and forth from being a regular child to being a child living under the oppressive restrictions of the Jim Crow South. Author Carole Boston Weatherford deftly conveys a humanness that's often missing from profiles about civil rights giants. Hamer's strength and vulnerability are unflinchingly displayed, which takes the book to another, more sophisticated level.
Hamer's plainspoken approach to her experiences are sure to appeal to both parents and kids alike as they tackle the difficult issues of civil rights, social resistance, and the inner workings of social justice organizations.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of fair work practices. Sharecropping was called legalized slavery because of the unfair work and pay practices sharecroppers were forced to endure. Have you heard any stories in the media about unfair wages or employment practices?
Do women in the civil rights movement receive enough attention and focus?
Fannie Lou Hamer railed against the two-party system (Republicans and Democrats) that shut out viable African American candidates. Do you see the same issues with the political system today? How did candidates in Hamer's time use the media to get their messages out, and how do candidates use the media today?
- Author: Carole Boston Weatherford
- Illustrator: Ekua Holmes
- Genre: Picture Book
- Topics: Activism, Great Girl Role Models, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Candlwick
- Publication date: August 4, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 56
- Available on: Hardback
- Awards: ALA Best and Notable Books, Caldecott Medal and Honors, Coretta Scott King Medal and Honors
- Last updated: January 21, 2021
Our editors recommend
For kids who love African American stories
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.