Wilma Rudolph had polio when she was six years old. Polio is a virus that can cause paralysis. Now we have a vaccine for polio but that wasn’t invented yet when Wilma was little. The polio did not paralyze Wilma, but it did leave one leg crooked and Wilma had to wear a brace to help her walk.
When Wilma was nine she took the brace off and when she was eleven she started to play sports in school. Eventually, Wilma won gold medals at the Olympics as a runner. For the next two weeks you can watch the stories of Olympic athletes at the 2010 Vancourver Winter Olympic games. Lots of them will have inspirational stories too. It takes a lot of hard work and determination to compete at the Olympic Level.
Take a look at this great video of Wilma talking about her own life and her experiences at the Olympics.
Featured Book: Heart and Soul Sometimes history can be overwhelming for me. It’s hard to keep the people and places and dates straight. I really like Heart and Soul because the history unfolds like a story. In fact, the book is written like an old lady talking. It’s like listening to your Grandmother explain it.
This is the kind of book that makes you proud to be a part of your country and it doesn’t matter if you are black or white or young or old. Our country is only 236 years old. That’s a baby country. And in that time we have worked through some struggles that could have ended really badly. Instead, we have struggled together to work out our differences and find common ground and build a life together.
This book shows how a country can go from thinking a black person was property to having a black president. It explains how changes were slowly made to help make that happen. It doesn’t say the job is done, but it shows how we got to where we are today. And it has the BEST paintings. Author: Kadir Nelson
Featured Scientist: Dr. Tyrone Hayes I wish all science books were written like this one! This is the story of Dr. Tyrone Hayes who started out as a boy collecting frogs, turtles and snakes in the swamp near his home in Columbia, South Carolina. Fast forward 20 years and Tyrone is a Harvard graduate studying frogs. He’s a frog scientist, just like he always wanted to be.
As you read the book you learn about how Tyrone became a scientist, but you also learn about how he does his research. You see pictures of Tyrone out in the wild collecting samples and inside his lab studying frogs under a microscope. Tyrone’s research is about the affects of pesticides on frogs. Pesticides are chemicals that farmers spray on crops to kill pests like insects or weeds. In particular, he studies atrazine, a chemical used to kill weeds. Atrazine is used in Indiana on corn crops. Reading this book just might make you want to follow the debate about whether or not atrazine should be used. According to Tyrone’s research, the chemical causes all kinds of problems in frogs…they can grow extra legs… and the chemical can even make a boy frog turn into a girl frog.
This book has fabulous pictures of frogs, frog parts & frog insides. There are also great pictures of Tyrone and his students in his lab or out in the wild collecting specimens. The pictures are all crisp and clear and full of color. I really liked the pictures inside the lab. I also liked hearing about being a scientist right from Tyrone. The author used Tyrone’s real words throughout the book. It was cool to read about a little boy who grew up to do exactly what he dreamed of doing. It’s also cool to read about someone that is really passionate about what they do. Watch the video below – Tyrone raps about what atrazine does to frogs. Author: Pamela Turner
Teenage brothers Sam and Stick live in Chicago in 1968. Their dad, Rev. Roland Childs, is a respected minister and close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King. Sam’s dad believes passionately in non-violent protest and tirelessly organizes and participates in peaceful protest marches.
Older brother Stick has begun to question Dr. King’s nonviolent philosophy and has been secretly attending meetings of the Black Panthers, an organization whose philosophies are more aggressive than Dr. King’s and are different from what Rev. Child’s preaches and teaches his boys at home. Sam is torn between the ideas of has father and the ideas of his older brother, both of whom he respects and admires.
Everybody can relate to being torn between two choices and being torn between the opinions of two people you respect. When it comes down to figuring out what you think for your own self – that’s when things get hard.
After Dr. King is assassinated and Sam witnesses the brutal beating of a friend by police officers, he becomes more interested in the ideas Stick is learning about at the Black Panther meetings. He begins to attend the meetings also. The conversation the teens have at home, at school, and at these meetings are some of the best parts of the book. They are living the civil rights struggle as they face discrimination every day. Listening to these conversations you get a real sense of each philosophy and why it was chosen by the people committed to it.
This book has a pretty explosive, surprising ending. It isn’t a book for the faint hearted. These are really hard issues and there is violence in the book. It isn’t a happy story with a happy ending because it’s not that kind of story. It wasn’t a happy time. The book is true to the historical period so the violence is part of the story being told.
It is hard for Sam and Stick to stand by watching people suffer the injustices of racism. When Sam finds out Leroy, the leader of the student Black Panthers, sneaks away to talk to Rev. Childs, the same way Sam is sneaking off to the Black Panther meetings, he realizes that these issues are hard for everyone. Sam discovers that standing quiet and firm is different than doing nothing and that you can be agressive, without being violent. A really powerful, emotional book. Don’t miss the author’s note at the end – it is a great discussion of the true events, people and groups that appear in this book. Author: Kekla Magoon Award: Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent 2010
Hand in Hand tells the stories of 10 African-American men from different periods in American history. Each story is written like the author really knew the person. She didn’t, of course, she wasn’t even alive for most of them. What she did, though, was write about each person’s whole life, not just their accomplishments. It helps you understand how and why they accomplished what they did. This makes them much more real and their stories interesting. Author: Andrea Pinkney Illustrator: Brian Pinkney 2013