Heart and Soul

  • Title: Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans
  • Author: Kadir Nelson
  • Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
  • Publisher: Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication year: 2011
  • Brief Summary: From HarperCollins-“Heart and Soul is about the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it’s about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it’s about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It’s a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination, and triumphs. Kadir Nelson’s Heart and Soul—the winner of numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Author Award and Illustrator Honor, and the recipient of five starred reviews—is told through the unique point of view and intimate voice of a one-hundred-year-old African-American female narrator. This inspiring book demonstrates that in striving for freedom and equal rights, African Americans help our country on the journey toward its promise of liberty and justice—the true heart and soul of our nation.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – Naturally, I think this book could be used for a history class. I think the length of this book, and some of the content would make this book ideal for older children too. I did find this interesting lesson plan from Fishtank Learning for a 4th grade English Language Arts class that would be helpful for teachers and librarians alike
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it – I was very interested in finding this book after one of our groups in class did their presentation on him. And I am so glad I read this one as I think this picture book would be invaluable for a school library. Much like Nelson’s other illustrative works, such as Henry’s Freedom Box, this book has very powerful, almost luminescent art. As the reader, we are shown various African American historical figures such as Harriet Tubman or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and portraits of African Americans in various time periods. One of the most striking to me was the portrait of a family migrating north, all of their possessions on the top of their car, their faces determined. Nelson includes an Author’s Note, a Timeline, and a Bibliography showing his references for this book. I definitely will be putting this on Best 50 list.

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