We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2020 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
The Power Of Her Pen: The Story Of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne (Amazon | Book Depository)
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome Art by John Parra
Published by Simon Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books (2020)
ISBN: 148146289X (ISBN13: 9781481462891). Borrowed via NLB Singapore Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.
One of the great things I love about picturebook biographies is that they introduce me to significant people whom I would not otherwise have known, such as this story of African American journalist, Ethel L. Payne. The narrative showed, how even as a young girl, Ethel already had an “ear for stories” and that “Long past her bedtime, Ethel collected the stories of people who followed a path paved with dreams.”
Her experience with racism as a “black girl who dared to go to school with whites” was also documented here along with her not being allowed to work on a school newspaper because of the color of her skin. When she became a journalist, she made sure to document the stories of Black American soldiers in Japan, which eventually landed her a job in Chicago Defender: “one of the only two daily black newspapers in the country and the main source of news in the black community.”
What struck me as especially noteworthy was the type of questions she raised when she was assigned to the White House. She went on to ask U.S. Presidents about racial inequity and social injustice – issues that would have otherwise been ignored – or would not have even part of the conversation at all, had she not raised her hand, stood up, and shakily but firmly asked the questions that would change the course of history. She became highly recognized for her pointed and fearless questions that she was given the title “First Lady of the Black Press.”
As noted in the image above: “It was her questions to presidents that finally made readers of all races pay attention to the plight of African Americans. Her reporting highlighted their struggle for justice, equal pay, housing, and education. And, in her role of informing her readers, Ethel created awareness and activism in the fight for civil rights for people across the globe.”
This is a PBB that is a must-read and a must-own in school libraries, and in your own home. Truly a riveting and empowering narrative.
#ReadIntl2020 Update: Author and Illustrator are POC.
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