Biographies of Black People for Grades 3-5 -- Multicultural Children's Book Day Review

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

It is January and that means Multicultural Children's Book Day is coming. This year it is scheduled for January 31, 2020, and I will be cohosting it so be sure to tune in then to see all the amazing books shared. Today I get to share three books from Capstone Editions. This collection of books share a look into the lives of three black Americans that you may or may not have heard of but are perfect books for the upcoming Black History Month. They are all recommended for grades 3 to 5. We will start with Ona Judge Outwits the Washingtons: An Enslaved Woman Fights for Freedom by Gwendolyn Hooks and illustrated by Simone Agoussoye. 

George and Martha Washington owned slaves. One of them was named Ona Judge. She lived with her family at Mount Vernon, the Washingtons' plantation. It is where she grew up. Ona learned to sew near her mother. When George Washington became President of the United States he and Martha had to move to New York City. They had to decide which slaves to take with them and which they should leave to run the plantation. Ona went with them to New York City. There she was Martha's personal slave and she accompanied her everywhere. Eventually George and Martha decided to gift Ona to their daughter and her new husband. Ona realized she would not get to live with her family anymore and Ona made a plan to runaway. She left the Presidential Mansion in Philadelphia while the family was eating dinner. She managed to get to New Hampshire. At one point George Washington even sent someone after her when he heard where she was, but she managed to escape again. She also met Jack Staines and married him in New Hampshire, and they had a baby named Eliza. 

I love how this book shares about slaves. The terminology used to explain it is done in a wonderful way that makes the reader truly understand how awful it was. The story itself is interesting and the way it is told makes the reader want to learn more. The illustrations are also done in a wonderful way. 

This book is a way to introduce the side of the slave to a child. It is done in a tasteful way and it talks about a well known Founding Father in a different light than most have heard. It is such a strong book.

Our next book is about another escaped slave. It is The Escape of Robert Smalls: A Daring Voyage Out of Slavery by Jehan Jones-Radgowski and illustrated by Poppy Kane. This book tells us of a slave, Robert Smalls, living during the Civil War. He is forced to work on a steamboat. He was trusted by the captain, Charles Relyea. One night when the Relyea left Smalls in charge of the ship and Smalls and some of the other black crew took the ship out towards the Union Blockade and what they hoped would be freedom. Robert Smalls apparently had a similar build to Charles Relyea and similar looks. Robert put on one of Relyea's uniforms and pulled the wide rimmed hat down low whenever he had to pass the check points or other boats. Even once they were out of the Confederate area they knew approaching the Union boats was also dangerous, but they put up a white flag and made it to freedom.

Again this book discusses slavery in a very respectful way to the slave. It points out what is wrong with the idea. The story itself is filled with intrique and mystery. It is interesting and suspenseful. The illustrations share the mood of the book. The night they escaped was dark and the pages are rather dark. It also explains things about the laws and such of the time. If Charles Relyea was caught off his ship he would be in trouble and possibly face a court martial and possibly lose command of his ship. The details of this harrowing escape are so interesting. 

I love how this book shares a story of escape during the Civil War. It is truly interesting to hear such stories. The ships were such an important part of the war to bring supplies and news to the troops on both sides. I love hearing the story of bravery and success.

Our final book is Mamie on the Mound: A Woman in Baseball's Negro Leagues by Leah Henderson and illustrated by George Doutsiopoulos. Mamie Johnson was a black woman with a dream of playing professional baseball. She was an amazing pitcher. However she realized pretty quickly she had two strikes against her--she was black and she was female. This book shares her life and struggle to realize her dream. Her dream mattered so much she packed up and went on the road with a team leaving behind her baby and husband. 

This story shows a strong and brave woman who achieves her life dream. What an amazing role model for our children. She put her mind to it and found a way. The illustrations in the book are life like and very good. The story brings you to the field watching and playing with Mamie. 

All three of these books share stories of amazing black Americans who conquered different odds. They are role models and a piece of our history. The books themselves are amazing quality. The pages are very thick. Each has additional information about the person at the end as well as information about the author and illustrator. I highly recommend these books and suggest getting them for Black History Month!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators. 

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

Super Platinum

Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,


Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,


Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press,


 Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,


Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books,  TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales

Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ă‘usta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

·         Free Multicultural Books for Teachers

·         Our New FREE Teacher Classroom Physical and Developmental Challenges Kit

·         Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians, and Educators

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.