Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth: Educator, Feminist, and Anti-Lynching Civil Rights Leader

Holt/Godwin. Jan. 2022. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250239464.
Gr 3 Up–There are many biographies of Ida B. Wells for children but none as personal and poignant as this one. Born into slavery, Wells was a larger-than-life figure throughout her career as a supporter of all people deserving dignity, purpose, and freedom. The causes she championed were education, feminism, and both voting and civil rights, to name just a few. When Wells saw obstacles, she found ways to overcome them. The author, Wells’s great-granddaughter, writes in the first-person with justifiable pride about her ancestor but not at the expense of facts. Wells became a teacher and co-owned a newspaper called Memphis Free Speech where she voiced her concerns about the “separate but equal” issue in education. Those contrary public views lost Wells her livelihood. Later, friends of hers were lynched solely because their grocery store rivaled a white-owned store. This sparked Wells to lecture widely, both in the U.S. and abroad, about the inhumane and unjust practice of lynching. The illustrations are extraordinary and the book design strong. End papers strikingly showcase quotes attributed to Wells in an oversized font in white on a black background as well as a portrait of her in her youth, mirrored with one of her as an older woman. The picture book format works well for a strong graphic presentation of Wells’s life and work, but the content moves this into the realm of slightly older elementary audiences. It would not be out of place in a middle school setting.
VERDICT A superb biography for all libraries, this picture book can effectively be used with a broad range of students as an introduction to the importance of activism and Black history.

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