We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball



Amazing paintings + compelling history = a grand slam.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Descriptions of racist behavior towards the Negro League players as well as some tough behavior from the players themselves appropriate within the context of the stories.


Mention of a few fist fights.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is an important and valuable book that gives new insight into African-American history and the history of baseball.

Kids say

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What's the story?

Even staunch fans of baseball may not know the stories of the Negro League. During segregation, gifted African-American athletes created their own league. Beginning in the 1920s, the actions of these hard-working, passionate athletes helped to create the game of baseball as it's played today. Kadir Nelson writes about their struggles and successes and includes the personal anecdotes that truly make history come alive. He writes from the vantage point of an anonymous player to create a stronger sense of intimacy. This decision also gives him sway to personalize and editorialize some of the stories, helping kids understand the context of some of the players' more troublesome behaviors.

Is it any good?


You could take away the fascinating, well-researched text and this book would still be a stand-out. Nelson's paintings showcase the players as the heroes they were and give added emotional heft to their compelling stories. The athletes stand tall and serious, making eye contact with the reader to bring kids into the narrative.

Fortunately Nelson's words do his pictures justice. This is no boring history book -- the narrator has a relaxed way of telling the stories that is sure to interest most kids (and their parents). This is a much needed, beautifully produced book that belongs on the shelves of both baseball fans and history buffs.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why the history of the Negro League isn't common knowledge and take note of the ways the Negro League impacted the way baseball is played today. The extensive bibliography in the back also gives kids more ways to explore the players and the league.

Book details

Author:Kadir Nelson
Illustrator:Kadir Nelson
Topics:Sports and martial arts
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publication date:January 8, 2008
Number of pages:96
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Read aloud:9
Read alone:12

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Parent of a 9 year old Written byvalley girl March 20, 2013

For the Avid Baseball Fan Young or Old

This is a wonderful book for children and adults as well. I would say this is a book best read with your child especially for ages 7 and under. It's a book that you will have on your coffee table for years to come. My son particularly enjoyed learning about each of the different players and their nicknames. This book was a great way for children to learn about segregation and the struggles African America baseball players had playing in the Negro League. The illustrations are amazing and the history about baseball, civil rights and Negro League was educational.
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