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.
Have you ever heard of Indiana’s own Olympian Oscar Robertson? In 1955 Oscar when to Crispus Attucks High School. Oscar’s team won the Indiana State Championship, becoming the first all-black school in the nation to win a state title. Robertson led Crispus Attucks to another championship in 1956. Oscar was so good he played in College and went on to win a gold medal with the US Basketball team at the 1960 Olympic Games.
If you want to read a biography of President Obama, this is the one. It tells his story from the time he was born up to inauguration day. The book includes comments from people close to him like his mother, his grandmother and his sister as well as people he has worked with or inspired.
The book includes questions he has been asked by the American people, by other politicians and by kids.
Question from a first grader: “Shouldn’t you be vice president first?”
You can even find out little things, like the fact that he is left handed and likes chili and basketball. As a student basketball player he earned the nickname “Barry O’Bomber” because of his jump shot. Barry was his nickname back then – see all of the interesting things you can find out?!
Every page has several vibrant photos. I enjoyed reading this as the story of a person’s life. I also liked that the author included a lot of information about the election and what the issues were that were debated during the election. This book is the story of a life…but also gives a look at the process of getting elected.
Edna Lewis cooks simple and she cooks Southern. Edna grew up in Virginia and this book tells the story of how she ended up a chef in New York City. When she was a little girl her family ate what they could grow and they ate what was ripe when it was ripe or they canned it to save for later. The dishes served at her restaurant depended on the season because Edna only used fresh ingredients in her recipes. If it wasn’t just picked, she didn’t use it.
An interesting look at a person who followed her passion into a career and life she enjoyed.
Eight-year-old Sadie is a slave on the plantation of Master Francis Giltner. When Master Giltner whips January, a young man dear to Sadie and her family for trying to run away, Sadie wishes she would have tried to stop him. Just the other day January had handed her a little bird, a sparrow, carved from wood. He’d handed it to her and said, “It’s fixin’ to fly And so is I.” Maybe Sadie should have told her mom and dad what January was planning to do.
That same night Sadie is shaken awake. Her dad says, “We is gonna cross water tonight!” Her mom says “They was comin’ to fetch the boys in the mornin’. We heard it ourselves. They was gonna be auctioned off.” To keep their family together, Sadie’s mom and dad have made the decision to make a run for it, even though they have seen what their punishment will be if they get caught. This night begins their harrowing journey to Indiana and then on to Michigan and finally to Canada on the Underground Railroad. Pursued by slave catchers and dogs the family relies on the help of others to survive. And even when they finally get to a free state, slave catchers still chase them, hoping to drag them back to the planation. Author: Patricia Polacco
This video is a dramatization of people escaping with the help of Abolitionists. It really shows you the emotional toll fleeing took on people and the importance of having help along the way. Fugitive slaves running through Indiana may have passed through the homes of Alexander Rankin in Fort Wayne or Levi Coffin in Fountain City.
Alexander Rankin was a well-known abolitonist. Rankin came to Fort Wayne in 1838 to become a minister. He built a house at 818 Lafayette Street in Fort Wayne and lived there for two years. The Rankin house is the only surviving structure in Fort Wayne that is known to be connected to the Abolition movement or the Underground Railroad.
Marching for Freedom tells the story of hundreds of men, women and children who marched in Selma, Alabama in the 1960s to help win black Americans the right to vote.
In 1963 Joanne Blackmon was ten. She went to the courthouse with her Grandmother so that her Grandmother could register to vote. They waited in line for hours and finally were arrested and put in jail. An old lady and a little girl…arrested…for patiently waiting in line.
That’s how it was in 1963. If a black person wanted to register to vote there were all kinds of outlandish rules they had to follow that made actually registering virtually impossible. A lot of people were afraid to even try to register for fear of being arrested, fired from their job or beaten.
In order to bring attention to the problem, people began to organize peaceful marches. The author interviewed several people who were child marchers – it is really interesting to listen to them tell their stories. What was it really like to be a ten year-old in jail? How did it feel? What was it like to march and have people yell mean things at you and throw things at you? It’s much better than a history book that just tells you what happened. These kids were actually there. You can tell how much they believed in what they were doing because they were able to be brave even though they were very scared. It’s a great story about the power of kids, ordinary kids, who helped changed the course of American history.
There are also great pictures throughout this book. If you like them you can look at more at the Take Stock website links below. By looking at the photos you can be a witness to history too. The author says, “I wondered…would I have been that brave?” After reading this book I asked myself the same thing. Author: Elizabeth Patridge
While the people were marching, they often sang songs to communicate their purpose and to help them overcome their fear. One of the most famous songs is “We Shall Overcome.” Have you heard of that one? In the book Freedom Song, you can read the words to the songs and learn about them. A CD comes with the book so you can listen also.