Please welcome my guest blogger today, author Carole Boston Weatherford! Her novel in verse just came out, a stunning perspective of the accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen during Jim Crow WWII America. This is a family endeavor, the dramatic scratchboard illustrations are by her son, Jeffrey Boston Weatherford.
You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jeffrey Boston Weatherford
… before 1940, African Americans could not become pilots in the U.S. military.
Carole Boston Weatherford’s novel in verse tells the story of the Tuskegee Airman, the pioneering African-American pilots of World War II and of life for blacks during this time. Jim Crow laws permeated the military during this time; the SS Mariposa actually had a rope to separate black soldiers from white. But it also curtailed training and leadership opportunities for African Americans, both male and female. Top brass claimed that blacks were not fit to fly.
Of the more than 400,000 pilots trained by the Civilian Pilot Training Program, only 2,000 were black; less than half of a percent. With tremendous pressure to prove their worthiness, The Tuskegee Airmen earned 900 plus medals including Distinguished Crossed, Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts. Their accomplishments paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military. [novel in verse, ages 9 and up]
She created a list of books for children who dream of taking to the skies … not unlike the pioneering aviators of the Tuskegee Institute. Need more books about flying? I have a list of female aviators: Fabulous Flying Females. What books about flying did we leave out? Thanks for sharing!
10 Books for Children Who Dream of Flying
10. Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
In this partly autobiographical story based on Ringgold’s narrative quilts, Cassie Louise Lightfoot recalls her Depression-era childhood and close-knit community and takes flights of fancy above 1939 Harlem. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
9. The Adventures of Sparrowboy by Brian Pinkney
A newspaper boy crashes into a sparrow and gains superpowers that help him to conquer the neighborhood bully. This award-winning title was written and illustrated by Caldecott Honor artist Brian Pinkney. [graphic novel picture book, ages 4 and up]
8. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
Newbery Award winner Hamilton teams with two-time Caldecott winners Leo and Diane Dillon to retell animal, supernatural, fanciful and cautionary tales, as well as tales from the freedom struggle. [collection of folk tales, ages 8 and up]
7. Wings by Christopher Myers
Greek myth meets an anti-bullying fable as Ikarus, a new boy in the neighborhood, is outcast at school because he has wings. Fortunately, a girl speaks up for him, inspiring young readers to dare to be different. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
6a. Fly High: The Story of Bessie Coleman by Louise Borden and Mary Kay Kroger. Illustrated by Teresa Flavin
6b. Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman (2002) by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Earl B. Lewis (Coretta Scott King Author Honor)
Two verse biographies of pioneering African American aviator Bessie Coleman are better than one. Talkin’ About Bessie won Grimes the Coretta Scott King Author Honor. [picture book biographies, ages 9 and up]
5. The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane (1994) by Russell Freedman, Wilbur Wright, and Orville Wright
Freedman, the dean of nonfiction for young people, tells the story of the men behind the first powered, sustained, and controlled airplane flight. [chapter book biography, ages 10 and up]
4. Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart (2011) by Candace Fleming
In alternating chapters, the masterful biographer Fleming braids together the famed aviator’s life and the search for her and her missing plane. The book is enriched by sidebars, photos, maps, and Amelia’s handwritten notes. [chapter book biography, ages 8 and up]
3. Ron’s Big Mission by Corinne Naden and Rose Blue. Illustrated by Don Tate
At age nine, future Challenger astronaut Ronald McNair reads books about airplanes and flight and challenges the segregated system to obtain a library card in his South Carolina hometown. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
2. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, chronicles the adventures of the Potts family, and their flying, floating car on the trail of a notorious band of robbers. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]
1. Animorphs by K. A. Applegate
After encountering an alien, five normal kids gain the power to transform into any animal they touch. The character Tobias permanently becomes a raptor. Their quest to save planet Earth spans the 54-book series. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
p.s. From Mia. Pair You Can Fly with picture book Coming on Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis
I pair this book up to show another side of the war. Because the men were off fighting, women were able to go to work. Ada Ruth’s mama has to leave her with her grandma for a job in Chicago because times are tough and there isn’t food even for the stray kitten that she rescues. And before long, Ada Ruth gets word in a letter that feels like a miracle of a song that her mom is coming on home soon! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
New York Times best-selling author Carole Boston Weatherford has dozens of books, including Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America, winner of an NAACP Image Award; Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, winner of a Caldecott Honor, Sibert Honor and Flora Steiglitz Straus Award for nonfiction; Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, winner of an NAACP Image Award, Caldecott Honor Medal and Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration.
Becoming Billie Holiday won a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, Birmingham, 1963 won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and the Jefferson Cup, The Sound that Jazz Makes won the Carter G. Woodson Award from National Council for the Social Studies, and Remember the Bridge: Poems of a People and Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins both won North Carolina Juvenile Literature Awards. Winner of the North Carolina Award for Literature and the Ragan-Rubin Award from the North Carolina English Teachers Association, Carole teaches at Fayetteville State University.
Jeffery Boston Weatherford is a multitalented artist, designer and rapper. The son of a poet and a preacher, Jeff was born in High Point, North Carolina. He holds a B.A. in Art and Design from WinstonSalem State University where he was a Chancellor’s Scholar and honor graduate. Currently completing a Master of Fine Art at Howard University in Washington, D.C., he is an arts educator and freelance designer. He conducts hip hop workshops combining literacy and technology. His art has shown at galleries in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. You Can Fly is his first book.
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.