Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Carter Reads the Newspaper, written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Don Tate. Peachtree. Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 2019. $23.99 ages 8 and up
As I find so often when I read books by Deborah Hopkinson, I come away from the reading more enlightened, and fascinated by the stories she shares.
This picture book biography tells the story of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who is called the 'father of Black History'. Highly appropriate for sharing in February which is designated Black History Month, it shares the experiences that led Carter to realize how important reading could be to all people.
Carter was born after the Civil War to former slaves who told their stories to Carter and his six siblings. Life was not easy for the family. Carter was needed to help on the family farm for part of the school year; in the other months he did his best and was able to read the newspaper to his illiterate father. Through that reading, Carter learned about the world beyond the family farm.
Carter gave up his schooling before high school in order to help the family. Farm work, and then working in the mines taught him a great deal and earned him new friends. Meeting Oliver Jones lead to joining other miners in the reading room Oliver opened in evenings when their work was done. Carter was more interested in the food that he was in the reading. But, Carter's ability to read afforded him the chance to read the newspapers to the men gathered there, and the knowledge that a person can learn much from others.
Eventually earning a PhD in history from Harvard, he was challenged by one of his teachers to prove that Black people did, indeed, have a history. And that is what he did for the rest of his life.
This is a very interesting life story, told in an accessible, conversational style. Ms. Hopkinson inspires her readers to learn more by introducing other historical figures, and opening to them the opportunity to make further discoveries of their own.
Don Tate's illustrations present portraits of influential leaders, informative backgrounds, as well as realistic images of Carter and his family. Endpapers are worthy of your attention as is back matter which includes a resource list for learning more about Carter, an author's note, an illustrator's note, a list of the Black leaders pictured throughout the text, a timeline for Carter's life and many accomplishments, and quotation sources.
Engaging, informative and worthy of your attention. It should be shared!
"The boy who began by reading the newspaper to others transformed the way people thought about history. He fought for a history based on truth - a history that includes all people. Carter G. Woodson didn't just study history. He changed it. And we can too."