Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations
Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations
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Annotation: Illustrations and easy-to-read text follow a family through five generations as each is inspired by the song written in 1900 to honor Abraham Lincoln. Includes author's note on the history of the song and its meaning in her family.
Catalog Number: #195243
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Illustrator: Mallett, Keith,
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-525-51609-3
ISBN 13: 978-0-525-51609-5
Dewey: E
LCCN: 2019007422
Dimensions: 29 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
In 1900, "a girl learned a song" from her school principal, James Weldon Johnson (the poem's original author), for Lincoln's birthday. The song follows the girl's family through five generations, from the Great Migration to the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Through emotion-filled text and rich illustrations, readers derive a sense of the anthem's collective historical and cultural significance, and the deeply personal connections it carries.
Kirkus Reviews
Before you were born, a girl learned a song"—so begins the story of how "Lift Every Voice" takes root in a young African American girl's heart and becomes a source of fortitude for her and her descendants, who continue learning, singing, and passing the song along.Readers learn that the hymn was written by the fictional protagonist's principal, James Weldon Johnson, and his brother, John Rosamond Johnson, to be sung during a celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birthday in 1900. As she grows and passes the song down through generations, significant events in the lives of African Americans unspool, including the Great Migration and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and culminating with the ringing of "the freedom bell" at the opening ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Lyons writes with rhythmic warmth, weaving the lyrics into her story. Full of faith and hope, they were the foundation of the civil rights movement and continue to be a source of encouragement and pride. Mallett's artwork charmingly illumines the faces of the singers in the book, revealing their passion and often joy in singing what's become cherished as the African American national anthem. An author's note reveals that the story spread after Johnson's students took it for their own and shared it.A beautiful celebration of a song that continues to give life to African Americans. (Picture book. 4-8)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3 -A spirited, stunningly illustrated picture book that expresses the historical significance of James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson's hymn, which was written in honor of Abraham Lincoln. Lyons imagines a young girl in 1900 and her first encounter with the hymn and her desire to sing it with her "back straight, head high, heart and mouth open." The narrative follows the girl as she grows and teaches it to her son. With each passing generation, the song continues to inspire pride, hope, and faith for African Americans across the nation. The final pages depict the singing of the hymn at the 2016 dedication of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. An extended author's note discusses how the song represents Lyon's family heritage and her desire that this hymn remain a message of hope for future generations. Mallett's digitally enhanced drawings weave through generations of historical events with vibrant color and bright light, beautifully depicting the faces of those moved by this song that has come to be known as the Black National Anthem. VERDICT Lovely illustrations and a fresh look at the historical significance of the hymn add a new dimension that will inspire as well as inform young readers.-Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools, OH
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* In 1900, a girl learned a hymn written by her school principal, James Weldon Johnson, and she sang it as part of a 500-member choir: "Lift Every Voice and Sing." She later sang it to her husband as they moved from Florida to Pennsylvania, since "it was a part of her she wanted to pass on." Later, she shared it with her son through the years. Growing up, he sang it in choirs, when facing discrimination as a soldier returning from WWII, and after becoming a father. Tracing the history of Black Americans since 1900 through five generations of one family, this creative book also connects events and cultural shifts with particular lines in the song, underscoring their relevance during certain times, ending with the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. With clarity and warmth, the illustrations sensitively capture the changing characters, emotions, and eras as time passes. This well-structured, original story will resonate most intensely with readers and listeners who are familiar with this stirring hymn, but others will sense its power as well. Dovetailing nicely with the books that introduce the song itself, this moving picture book celebrates it as a "symbol of faith, brilliance, resistance, and resilience."
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (8/1/19)
Horn Book (8/1/19)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (8/1/19)
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: K-3
Lexile: 680L

Just in time for the 120th anniversary of the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing"--this stirring book celebrates the Black National Anthem and how it inspired five generations of a family.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us.
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.

In Jacksonville, Florida, two brothers, one of them the principal of a segregated, all-black school, wrote the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing" so his students could sing it for a tribute to Abraham Lincoln's birthday in 1900. From that moment on, the song has provided inspiration and solace for generations of Black families. Mothers and fathers passed it on to their children who sang it to their children and grandchildren. It has been sung during major moments of the Civil Rights Movement and at family gatherings and college graduations.

Inspired by this song's enduring significance, Kelly Starling Lyons and Keith Mallett tell a story about the generations of families who gained hope and strength from the song's inspiring words.

--A CCBC Choice
--A Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
--An ALSC Notable Children's Book

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