Picture Books

International Women’s Day

Today’s a two-fer, overlapping last month’s Black History theme with this month’s theme of Women’s History. I’ve got two great little books about two amazing women who’ve spent a good deal of their lives in the spotlight and have used that light to illuminate the world around them. (And in a happy coincidence they are both authored by the same prolific author who has used her talent to bring to light the lives of many amazing people. For more info visit https://cbweatherford.com/)


Legendary Miss Lena Horne Book Review

The Legendary Miss Lena Horne

Written by: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by: Elizabeth Zunon

Number of Pages: 48

Age Range: 5-9

Rating: 4/5

Born in New York in 1917, Lena was raised primarily by her grandmother who taught her the importance of education and manners. Her parents, both show people, had other ideas and Lena felt the draw of the stage during the Depression working at the Cotton Club to help make ends meet. She was later able to make inroads in Hollywood for other black performers, contribute to the war effort and even perform at President Truman’s inaugural ball despite being blacklisted during the Red Scare. She advocated for racial equality and women’s rights all her life and was honored not only for her work but for her remarkable talent. Take a listen (2340932023 link to stormy weather)

Oprah: The Little Speaker

Written by: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by: London Ladd

Number of Pages: 34

Age Range: 4-8

Rating: 4/5

I’d be surprised if there was anyone on the planet who didn’t know the name “Oprah Winfrey.” She’s won over audiences for years with her vulnerability, honesty, generosity and charm. I knew she had humble beginnings but I didn’t realize just how humble until reading this book.

Oprah grew up in on a small run-down farm in Mississippi where she hauled water every day (no indoor plumbing), tended to the animals, and learned to read from the Bible. Like Lena, she was raised by her grandparents. Her first public speaking appearance was in church and it sparked a fire that couldn’t be put out despite being teased by the other kids and reprimanded (“children should be seen and not heard”) by her grandma. Her tenacity in school helped her to skip a grade and make real friends for the first time.

The story ends with her still in childhood, showing the spunk and determination of spirit adult readers will recognize as the tools that got her where she is today but other than a brief mention of that in an author’s note there are no other details about her commercial success as an adult. I think this is a rather interesting choice by the author to focus on what those traits got her as a child, while leaving the door open to learn more about her later life from other sources. She’s a “normal” kid with “normal” struggles who worked hard to do her best, regardless of the adult she became.

We’ll have more amazing women to spotlight as the month goes on but today I want to give an extra-loud shout-out to all the amazing women in my own life. My incredible mom, sister, aunts, grandmothers, cousins, friends that have personally influenced who I’ve become; thanks for being strong and beautiful and smart and powerful and for urging me to be the same.

Share your own shout-out in the comments below. I’d love to hear about the amazing women in your life!


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