Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation

Gr 1—4—Benjamin C. Holmes was born a slave and learned his letters from his father, even though it was against the law. While apprenticed in Charleston, he taught himself how to read. Then the Civil war erupted. Sent to a slave prison to await resale, Benjamin had the opportunity to read the Emancipation Proclamation, published in a smuggled newspaper, to his fellow slaves. This true story (Eerdman's, 2010) is gently and lovingly related by Pat Sherman, and read in rich tones by LeVar Burton. Evocative background music and occasional sound effects accompany the individual voices Burton creates for each character. Listeners get to savor award-winning illustrator Floyd Cooper's warm, realistic oil illustrations as they enjoy the auditory feast. An end note provides further details about Benjamin's life as he later taught school and became one of the Jubilee Singers. Although he died before the age of 30, the story celebrates his legacy. This would be an excellent choice for Black History Month, and would certainly be warmly received at any time of the year.—Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary School, Federal Way, WA

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