A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks: Book Review

Gwendolyn Brooks, a young girl who managed to rise above society's views and become a respected poet. 

Title: A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks
Series: People Who Shaped Our World
Author: Alice Faye Duncan
Illustrator: Xia Gordon
ISBN: 9781454930884          Language: English

Classification: Fiction based on a real person
Type: Transition Book (not quite a Chapter Book)
Themes: adversity, dreams, author

What's it about? 
This is based on the life of Gwendolyn Brooks who won the Pulitzer Prize for her work Annie Allen in 1950. It details through poetry her life from a child, to school, to marriage, and beyond.

A book that focuses on a woman of colour showing how despite her very humble beginnings and the setbacks (including being accused of plagiarism) she was still able, through hard work and determination, to follow her love of writing and make it into a career. For her time that would have been an extraordinary achievement but the message is still relevant today for any child from a low socio-economic background.

Needs a level of adult imput to explain the technique of poetry and some of the vocabulary.

My Thoughts
I will say that I'm not big on poetry, in fact, I think I only own one poetry book in total, but this book is a bit unique in that it tells Gwendolyn's story through the style in which she wrote.

While this is partly autobiographical and at first glance might look like a picture book I think this book could be put to use with older students. Ones around grade 4 and up that are just starting to look at poetry and the different types that there are. I feel most students would need a bit of guidance with this one.

One thing I really liked about the book was the inclusion of the timeline at the back of Gwendolyn's life. While the content as mentioned is better suited for an older age range if you are focusing on women of history or people of colour then the younger grades, especially grade 2, could focus on the biographical nature of the story and conduct timeline activities based on it. They could then use that knowledge to create their own timeline of their life up until now and perhaps predict their own future - thus creating a solid Text-to-Self connection.

Perfect for person-studies, accomplishments, and poetry-focused lessons.


Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators.

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BRONZE: Charlesbridge Publishing, Judy Dodge Cummings, Author Gwen Jackson, Kitaab World, Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ Languages, Lee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, Redfin, Author Gayle H. Swift,  T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s Daughter, TimTimTom Books, Lin Thomas, Sleeping Bear Press/Dow Phumiruk, Vivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

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