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Biography for Beginners:
African-American Leaders

School Library Journal

October, 2008

Biography for Beginners: African-American Leaders, Volume 2

Gr 5-10--This volume covers 41 distinguished African-American actors, artists, authors, dancers, musicians, and entrepreneurs. (Volume 1 [2007] profiled individuals prominent in the areas of civil rights, politics, and social leadership; and scientists, inventors, and athletes). Each entry opens with an average-quality black-and-white photograph of the subject, and is followed by birth and (where applicable) death dates and information on early life, education, career, challenges, family, and legacy. Articles conclude with a listing of three to four relevant Web sites. The men and women cover a wide temporal range--from Phillis Wheatley, born around 1753, to Savion Glover, born in 1973. A good deal of information is presented over the course of five to nine pages, yet the profiles are easy to read and comprehend, due to simple, lively language, large font size, and generous line spacing and white space. An added bonus is the inclusion of 12 "Brief Biographies"--short entries on important people in African-American history who do not receive a full article. A subject index includes names, occupations, and other keywords. While most of the individuals in this volume are also profiled in African American Biographies (Grolier, 2006), this would make a good general purchase for libraries needing information on the topic.--Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

Library Media Connection

August, 2008

African-American Leaders, Volume 1

This well organized and cross-referenced volume is meant to be a beginning research book, and it does an admirable job. The table of contents lists 37 civil rights, political, and social leaders, organized in alphabetical order with birth and death dates and a phrase or two telling of their main accomplishment(s). This would be a great help to students as they choose whom to research. A brief introduction explains the accomplishments of those included in the book and the category where their achievements best fits, helping the librarian direct students to an appropriate subject for their research assignment. In the body of the biography, students find the major points they want to include in their paper printed in bold capitalized type. Words that are found in the glossary are printed in bold capital letters. The information is accurate, basic, and presented in an interesting way. Each biography ends with a few relevant Web sites. The book concludes with a section of brief biographies of notable African-American leaders who were not included in the main section. This is a wonderful book that helps young children as they develop research skills. Index. Highly Recommended.


May 15, 2008

Biography for Beginners: African-American Leaders, Volume 1

The latest title in the Biography for Beginners series introduces the young researcher to 37 prominent African Americans, men and women who succeeded in breaking barriers in civil rights, athletics, political and social reform, and science and invention. In addition to biographies of commonly-studied African Americans as W.E.B. Du Bois, Jackie Robinson, Sojourner Truth, and Malcolm X, entries include patriot Crispus Attucks, statesman Ralph Bunche, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, astronaut Mae Jemison, inventor Elijah McCoy, golfer Tiger Wood, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Biographies, arranged in alphabetical order, follow the same user-friendly format as found in the preceding volumes in the series. Quick facts consisting of name, year of birth and death (when applicable) and major achievement are followed by profiles containing a blend of personal and professional facts relating to the person's early childhood, educational background, career and achievement, and later life. Articles range in length from 5-12 pages and conclude with lists of Web sites, of which a random sampling found most to be available for further research. Numerous archival black-and-white photographs, maps, and illustrations flesh out the text. A glossary, short profiles of other African Americans, and a subject index complete this valuable foundation resource.

It is hard to find reference sources particularly earmarked for younger learners in elementary grades, and those older students who may be struggling readers. Information is accessible and delivered in a conversational tone. Content is well chosen, with a conscientious effort to support curriculum. Volume 2 will focus on authors, actors, artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs. Highly recommended for school and public libraries.


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