Archive | January, 2020

Fannie Lou Hamer to get MS historical marker

28 Jan

Fannie Lou Hamer

A college student in a public history course was so inspired by Fannie Lou Hamer’s legacy of activism that he led the charge for an historical in her hometown of Sunflower County Mississippi. It’s about time! Read more here.

New Resources for The Roots of Rap

23 Jan



The website for The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop now features a playlist and links to lesson plans, documentaries and music videos. Take a look and have a listen. If you can recommend other resources that I should include, let me know.

Hallelujah! Book Birthday for BY AND BY

14 Jan


“My life is a sermon inside a song. I’ll sing it for you. Won’t take long.”

By and By: Charles Albert Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music is a verse biography of the composer best known for the hymn “We’ll Understand It Better By and By.” Tindley’s story, which unfolds through first-person lyrics, is remarkable not only because of his musical legacy. As a minister, he modeled service and outreach, leading a Philadelphia megachurch long before the term was coined. During the Great Migration and Great Depression, Tindley Temple’s ministries addressed needs ranging from hunger to home ownership. Tindley became known as “the Prince of Preachers.”

By and By is my first collaboration with Bryan Collier, a four-time Caldecott Honor winner. This subject hits close to home for us. Collier hails from Berlin, Md., Tindley’s hometown. I too have roots on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and have a grandfather who, like Tindley, was a Methodist minister.

The book’s rhyming text is punctuated with excerpts from spirituals and Tindley’s  hymns, Collier’s luminous watercolor collages celebrate a man whose music and conviction have inspired countless lives.

During the slavery era, Tindley was born free. His childhood was far from easy, with backbreaking hours in the fields, and no opportunity to go to school. But the spirituals he heard as he worked made him long to know how to read the Gospel for himself. Late at night, he taught himself to read from scraps of newspapers. From those small scraps, young Charles raised himself to become a founding father of American gospel music whose hymn was the basis for the Civil Rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”

By and By is the latest in my growing collection of religious books. Others on spiritual themes include Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom; The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights; How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace; and In Your Hands, a prayer inspired by Black Lives Matter.


For interviews or review copies, contact: Carole Weatherford (

By and By: Charles Albert Tindley, the Father of Gospel Music

By Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Bryan Collier

48 pages

Release date: January 14, 2020

Publisher: Atheneum/Simon & Schuster

Original Art Exhibition in Cary, NC: Illustrations by Jeffery Weatherford from YOU CAN FLY: THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN

13 Jan

Exhibition Cary NC push card 3

Share this exhibition of original scratchboard illustrations with your family or students. Join me and Jeffery at the artist’s reception January 31. We’ll be reading and signing the book. Find out more in the exhibition press release.

Jeffery visits schools to share the Tuskegee Airmen’s amazing saga and the creative process behind his award-winning book, our first collaboration. To book Jeffery, contact me.

Happy Founders’ Day, Delta Sorors

13 Jan

Lena Horne Cover

Honoring the legendary founders and illustrious sorors of #DeltaSigmaTheta on #DeltaFoundersDay2020.

With Hollywood glamour and a fighting spirit, famed Soror Lena Horne epitomized intellect, talent and grace. Share this beautiful biography with the girls who will be tomorrow’s leaders. Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. Bulk sales and autographed copies to chapters at discount. For details, contact me.

The Roots of Rap: Award Season Wrap-up

9 Jan




Thanks to the list-makers for all the book love. Congratulations to the creators of all the other books on these lists. I am so grateful that The Roots of Rap is finding readers and spreading the gospel of hip hop, the language of global youth culture. Updates to come.

  • Original Art Show, Silver Award
  • Kirkus Review, Best Picture Books
  • Kirkus Review, Best Informational Books
  • Book Links Lasting Connections 2019
  • North Carolina Young People’s Literature Award finalist
  • New York Public Library Best Books of 2019
  • Chicago Public Library Best Informational Books
  • Teaching for Change 100 Best Multicultural and Social Justice Books
  • Books All Young Georgians Should Read
  • 101 Great Books for Kids, Evanston Public Library
  • Best American History Books, 31 Days, 31 Lists by Betsy Bird/Fuse 8 Productions
  • Best Nonfiction, 31 Days, 31 Lists by Betsy Bird/Fuse 8 Productions
  • The Nerdies for Nonfiction
  • Nonfiction Detectives Best Nonfiction Books

Starred Reviews: Booklist, School Library Journal, Horn Book, Kirkus Review,



10 activities based on the picture book Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You

8 Jan

Be a King

Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream and You, illustrated by James E. Ransome, is an un-biography. Rather than a story about King’s life, the book is inspiration to live by his example.

Here’s what the Barnes & Noble blog had to say about the book: “While many books indirectly inspire conversations about the continued relevance of Dr. King’s work, this is the first one I’ve seen to make such a clear connection to the lives of today’s children. This is the perfect book to purchase when your children are young, and revisit in increasingly complex ways as they mature.”

Here’s how you can use the book in your classroom.

  • Reader’s theater or choral reading: With its affirming refrain, “You can be a King,” the book is tailor-made for choral reading. Add costumes for a staged reading. Intersperse protest songs from the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Decorate a door or bulletin board: Give students Post-It notes to pledge how they will be a King in their own classroom or community.

IMG_9325 (1)

  • Plant a dream: Give students an outline of a shoe. Have them write and/or draw a future goal on the shoe. Or give each student a seed to represent their dreams. Students will plant and germinate the seeds. Write dreams on masking tape and affix to the seed pots.
  • Stop bullying: Do role plays of bullying scenarios to show ways that students can intervene on a peer’s behalf.
  • King mural project: Take a cue from the class in the book and create portraits of King. Paper a door or  bulletin board with students art.
  • King Collage: Create a collage using scenes from King’s life. The collage could be a portrait of King or a symbol of the movement that he led.
  • Blackout poem: Use King’s “I Have a Dream” speech to create a blackout poem.
  • Add a spread to the book. Start with the refrain, “You can be a King.” Add two more lines suggesting a way to serve others or foster tolerance. Illustrate your text.
  • Name a King and Queen of help in your class or school. Vote for the winner.
  • Check out the 13 extension activities created by this enterprising educator.