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
When Grandmama Sings has several topics that are worthy of discussion with the child in your life. When Grandmama Sings takes place in the South in the 1940’s. In the Spirit of Christmas, here are three gifts to instill in your child as you read and discuss the book.
- Love of Extended Family – An extended family extends beyond the traditional nuclear family and includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relatives, who live nearby or in one household. When Grandmama Coles decides to go on a tour of the South with a jazz band, Belle wants to go with her. But her Dad is apprehensive. However, Belle’s mother steps in and says, “Belle won’t be alone. She’ll be with family and she can help out her grandmother.” Grandmama says, “I want Belle to go. She will be a big help to me.” Take this time to identify extended families in your own family unit or in friends’ families. This is also the time to discuss why extended families exist. Possible reasons are cultural, economics, health, and divorce. Also, explore the benefits of extended families.
- Share Your Talent – A talent is a natural ability to do something well. Grandmama Coles talent is singing. She took the opportunity to go on her first tour so she could share her talent with people beyond her hometown. Ask your child to identify her/his talent. Talk about ways to share that talent with others. Whatever their talent, it can help someone.
- Take Advantage of Opportunities – Sometimes a set of circumstances occurs that makes it possible to do something. This can be something that has been anticipated or not anticipated. You can take advantage of the opportunity or let the opportunity go by. Grandmama Coles took advantage of the opportunity to go on a tour of the South. This led to singing in a huge auditorium, which led to a record contract. Discuss what would have happened if Grandmama Coles did not take advantage of this opportunity. Talk about examples of opportunity taken and opportunity missed.
Instill in your children these 3 qualities and they will be gifts that they will cherish forever!
Learn more about When Grandmama Sings
Uncle Jed was the only black barber in the county. And he had a dream. Living in the segregated South of the 1920’s, 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 Uncle Jed encountered setback after setback that delayed his dream. However, not even the Great Depression could force him to give up on his dream. Uncle Jed finally opened his barbershop after saving for years and years. The community celebrated with him and so did his niece, Sarah Jean.
Uncle Jed’s Barbershop is a stirring story of dreams long deferred and finally realized.
Here are three reasons to give Uncle Jed’s Barbershop to the child on your Christmas list.
- Uncle Jed’s Barbershop inspires children to dream great dreams for their lives and realize that those dreams can come true. I will always remember the girl in Little Rock, Arkansas who said to me, “I want to be a doctor when I grow up, but my Grandmama says I will never be one. Now I know I can be a doctor.”
- An award-winning musical has been adapted from Uncle Jed’s Barbershop. The most recent honor is a Henry Award nomination for Outstanding New Musical. Theatre critics say: “Get ready for some toe-tapping fun!” – “Uncle Jed’s Barbershop leaps from the bookshelf to the stage!” –
- James Ransome’s wonderful richly colored paintings bring the story to life.
Learn about Uncle Jed’s Barbershop
Learn about Uncle Jed’s Barbershop Musical
When Grandmama Coles gets a big chance, Belle gets one, too. Belle’s going to spend the summer touring the South with Grandmama and a swing jazz band! Belle’s never been outside Pecan Flats, Mississippi and she can’t wait to go on the road with Grandmama, helping her read signs and menus and helping her sing. There are so many new things to see on their travels through the Deep South. But some things aren’t new. Everything is segregated, just like at home. But Grandmama stands up for what’s right. And when she sings, Belle knows that Grandmama’s song can bring everyone together.
Readers are saying:
“This is a beautiful story that teaches young readers about the time of segregation and the importance of music, mainly how it can bring people together.” – L. Calebrese
“When Grandmama Sings is a great book and should be read by everyone.” – Anna
“This book takes readers back to the segregated Deep South where obstacles abound, but courage and the desire to chase a dream are much greater.” – Coach A
When Grandmama Sings is the winner of the Living The Dream Award. It was also named a Best Book of the Year by Bank Street.
For Further Information:
When Grandmama Sings
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.
Uncle Jed’s Barbershop has received numerous awards, including a Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award, the Living The Dream Book Award, the Charlie May Simon Honor Book Award, and is a featured Reading Rainbow book.
Readers are saying:
“Now I know how to explain to my dad that I will never give up on my dreams.” -Z. Chowhury, 4th grade
“As a mother and teacher I have never read a book for children that was so rich in content and emotion.” -M. Berkowitz, New jersey
“When I read that book I started back believing in my dream.” -T. Allen, 3rd grade
“When I first read this book back in elementary school I loved it and still do. I am a college sophomore now. Ms. Mitchell had come to our school. She wrote ‘Never Give Up On Your Dreams’ in my book. I’m following that dream by going to college.” -A. Jones
A musical has been adapted from Uncle Jed’s Barbershop. It has won the following awards:
- ASCAP/Disney Workshop Winner
- O’Neill Musical Theatre Conference Finalist
- Richard Rodgers Award Finalist
- National Music Theater Network’s Director’s Choice Award Winner
- Featured Show in the New York Musical Theater Festival
Uncle Jed’s Barbershop opened to rave reviews in Denver at the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre – September, 2015.
For more information:
Uncle Jed’s Barbershop book
Uncle Jed’s Barbershop musical