Children’s Books Can Teach Social Justice

Social justice is a concept of fair and just moral treatment between an individual and society.  This includes the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges. The right to vote is one of the privileges to which all Americans are entitled.

Granddaddy’s Gift is used widely to teach the importance of voting. It is included on the Social Justice Book List which is compiled by the National Network of  State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY).

When her granddaddy becomes the first black registered voter in their small Mississippi town, Little Joe learns about determination and courage in the face of prejudice.

Excerpts from Book Reviews:

“A sensitive effort from Mitchell, about a courageous man in the segregated South who steadfastly pursued a goal, creating a legacy of pride and hope for the young girl who tells his story.” -Kirkus Reviews

“Johnson’s strong, realistic paintings personalize the familiar scenes of the civil rights movement.” -Booklist

Granddaddy’s Gift is available from Scholastic Books

Happy Birthday Dr. King

Today is the federal holiday set aside to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s contributions to society. This year the holiday falls on the day of his birth – January 15. As we spend this day in service in honor of Dr. King’s life of service, we pause to remember his fight for social justice, his commitment to the civil rights struggle, and his efforts to address economic and unemployment problems of disadvantaged people.

Dr. King was  a man of peace.  Even though people denigrated him and called him names, he never publicly responded by name-calling those who opposed him.  He used his gift of words to get his point across. He also used his words to inspire. We, too, dreamed right along with Dr. King for a better world.

We have to keep Dr. King’s legacy alive. Keep the books coming about his life. The following story happened today. A boy was asked, “Do you know who Martin Luther King is?” He replied, “I think he freed the slaves.” There is still work to be done.  We have to continue to educate children and adults about the importance of Dr. King’s life and his accomplishments.

And as we educate, let’s continue to dream and fight for everything Dr. King stood for.

Give The Book That Inspired An Award-Winning Musical This Christmas

Sarah Jean’s Uncle Jed was the only black barber in the county. He had a kind heart and a warm smile. And he had a dream.
Living in the segregated South of the 1920’s, where most people were sharecroppers. Uncle Jed had to travel all over the county to cut his customers’ hair. He lived for the day when he could open his very own barbershop. But it was a long time, and many setbacks, from five-year-old Sarah Jean’s emergency operation to the bank failures of the Great Depression, before the joyful day when Uncle Jed opened his shiny new shop — and twirled a now grown-up Sarah Jean around in the barber chair.
With James Ransome’s richly colored paintings brimming with life, this is a stirring story of dreams long deferred and finally realized.

Click to learn more about Uncle Jed’s Barbershop

Granddaddy’s Gift Recognized For Social Justice By NNSTOY

I’m super excited that my book, Granddaddy’s Gift, has been recognized by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) as a valuable classroom addition on Social Justice. #TeachSocJustice

Granddaddy’s Gift is a tribute to my grandfather – Joe King, Jr.

Having the right to vote was very important to him. One of my most treasured memories is when I turned 18 my grandfather took me to the courthouse to register to vote. He would be beyond thrilled to learn that his actions all those years ago inspired Granddaddy’s Gift.

Granddaddy’s Gift has stood the test of time. It is included in the Social Justice Book List which is available here: Social Justice Book List

Granddaddy’s Gift is available through Scholastic

An Exciting New Museum On The Horizon

African American Music Appreciation Month is the perfect opportunity to talk about the new museum that is on the horizon.


The National Museum of African American Music is scheduled to open in 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. It will be the only museum dedicated to preserving the legacy of the different types of music that was created, influenced, and inspired by African-Americans.

Proposed in 2002 by members of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, a task force was organized to determine the feasibility of such a project. The task force concluded that Nashville needed a place that could attract more African American conventions, as well as visitors from all backgrounds.

The museum will cover 50 genres of music, including Southern religious, blues, hip-hop, Rhythm & Blues, Jazz, call-and-response spirituals, work songs, gospel, etc.

Black Music Month began in 1979 and was organized by Kenny Gamble, Ed Wright, and Dyana Williams. They convinced President Jimmy Carter to host a reception to formally recognize the cultural and financial contributions of black music. Since then, Black Music Month is celebrated with events across the country. In 2009, President Barack Obama designated June as African American Music Appreciation Month.

The National Museum of African American Music will definitely be a welcome addition, not only to Nashville residents, but to visitors throughout the United States and the world.  Even though there is not a physical building in existence, the National Museum of African American Music has developed programs that served over 8,000 people in 2016.

Although the opening of the National Museum of African American Music is two years away, I am excited about the prospect of having over 50 genres of music, which African-Americans influenced, in one place.

My contribution to the history of jazz music is When Grandmama Sings. When I visit with students I talk to them about the origins of jazz and the various types of jazz artists. They eagerly listen to the excerpts of songs and discuss the story that is being told through the words.

The National Museum of African American Music will further open students minds to the contributions made by black Americans to the musical tapestry of the world.

For information: When Grandmama Sings