Freedom in Congo Square

  • Title: Freedom in Congo Square
  • Author: Carole Boston Weatherford
  • Illustrator: R. Gregory Christie
  • Publisher: Little Bee Books
  • Publication year: 2016
  • Brief Summary: From Little Bee Books: “A poetic nonfiction picture book about a little-known piece of African-American history that demonstrates how New Orleans’ Congo Square was truly freedom’s heart.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – This is another book to celebrate African American culture, and would be especially useful when addressing The Civil War (there is an interesting article I found from EducationWeek on the implications of improperly teaching about slavery and it’s haunting legacy). This would be a particularly vibrant voice to bring in opposition to the one dimensional overview of slaves and slavery.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it. –One wonderful thing about this book besides the marvelous illustrations by Christie, is the really unique writing of Carole Boston Weatherford. Weatherford uses eloquent language, i.e. “Women in gauze, silk, and percale, men in fringe and furry tails shook tambourines and shouted chants as rhythms fueled a spirited dance.” This just proves that children are capable of observing and retaining more than we give them credit for, and that advanced vocabulary is not too difficult for a child to grasp. There is a beautiful transition from where the slaves, toiling under the hot sun, bend their backs to pick cotton, or grasp their hoes and axes painfully, to the exultant dancing and raising of hands that takes places in the later pages in Congo Square.

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