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Title: Booker T. Washington: Great American Educator by Eric Braun
In graphic novel form, readers learn about the life of Booker T. Washington. He was born into slavery in Virginia and gained his freedom after the Civil War. Booker worked tirelessly at the Tuskegee Institute to provide African Americans with the chance to get an education and better their lot in life. He also secretly fought to gain equal rights for African Americans throughout the United States.
As you already know, I am loving these historical graphic novels for kids! It would seem that I read them just as much as the kids do. I read Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I was curious to see which parts of his life they would highlight in this short kids book.
Booker’s life in slavery is only given a cursory glance and then it jumps right into his life after slavery–mainly focusing on his activities at the Tuskegee Institute. I agree with his view that both the pursuit of knowledge and training in practical pursuits are important. While it was wonderful that he advocated for equal educational opportunities for African Americans, he also recognized that in the workforce they would still be mostly relegated to jobs consisting mainly of physical labor. At Tuskegee they taught students hands-on skills such as bricklaying, carpentry, sewing, and printing. Of course the students also studied more cerebral subjects such as math, science, and history. Booker was willing to work within the social confines of his time to set the groundwork for a better life for the next generation of African Americans.
I recommend Booker T. Washington: Great American Educator to families who want to give their kids a fun way to learn about history. This book is a fairly innocuous introduction to the life of Booker T. Washington, which spares you any of the more unpleasant details. As your kids get older, they will want to read some more in-depth books about Booker T.
Rating: 4 Stars
Until next time…