#DecolonizeReading2023 Books Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Faith, Music, and Deliverance in Nonfiction Picturebooks – Part 3 of 3

"We are taught to love each other, And as one should treat a brother, We must do by one another." - By and By: Charles Albert Tindley, The Father Of Gospel Music by Carole Boston Weatherford and Bryan Collier.

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual.

This year, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized
  5. Translated or international literature

This post is the final one of three parts – as I took note of several nonfiction picturebook titles that touch on faith, music, and deliverance – particularly among communities of color.

By And By: Charles Albert Tindley, The Father Of Gospel Music (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Carole Boston Weatherford Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Published by Atheneum Books For Young Readers (2020) ISBN: 9781534426368 (ISBN10: 1534426361) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

We started off this special feature on faith, music, and deliverance with Carole Boston Weatherford’s Standing In The Need Of Prayer (Amazon | Book Depository) illustrated by Frank Morris. It seemed appropriate to also end with another one of Carole Boston Weatherford’s nonfiction picturebook biographies.

I did not know who Charles Albert Tindley, Prince Of Preachers, was until I read this book. From the first page of this story, I knew it was an inspired, lyrical narrative that promises to take the reader to a spiritual, musical, redemptive journey of deliverance:

My life is a sermon inside a song.

I’ll sing it for you. Won’t take long.

While born free in 1851 to an enslaved father and a free mother (who died when Charles was a young boy), Charles was hired out to live among farmhands where he listened to enslaved people singing spirituals while out in the fields. These Biblical stories made into music made him yearn for more, and so young Charles taught himself to read and walked five miles to church, barefoot, just to read the gospel and be part of a community of faith-goers.

This rhythmic beat of hope and love never left Charles – even when he was working as a janitor as he studied at night to become a pastor, and this affinity to music is what defined Tindley’s being a church leader. While this seems like a story of struggle, I see it more as a triumphant story – one where God’s love has made everything abundant, even in the face of want and need.

I especially appreciated the backmatter with both author and illustrator notes detailing the inspiration behind the creation of this uplifting story. As Bryan Collier, the book artist, noted:

Doing this book was a mind-blowing experience, mainly because there was an abandoned church called Tindley’s Chapel situated next to my childhood home.

Every year, Tindley Day is celebrated in our town, reminding us of the good news and the gospel and the music of Charles Tindley.

Thanks to Spotify, I was able to familiarize myself with Charles Albert Tindley’s gospel music. Do find this picturebook and pair it with the glorious spirituals he composed.

#DecolonizeReading2023 Update: 22 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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