Tell All the Children Our Story: Memories and Mementoes of Being Young and Black in America




Bolden, Tonya. Tell All the Children Our Story: Memories and Mementoes of Being Young and Black in America. Abrams 2001. 128pp. Lexile 1130.

An elegant book design paired with excellent visual elements on nearly every page make this a real pleasure to read.  It was the first book for young people to trace the history of being young and black in America, starting in Colonial times including a black child born in Jamestown and going through the late 1990s.  While it touches on some well-known figures such as Frederick Douglass and Benjamin Banneker, most those named are not famous. Themes about the effects of racism and courage of individuals appear throughout the book. Bolden, a well-respected chronicler of black history, makes good use of primary sources such as diaries, letters, newspaper articles, and excerpts from books.  Quotes from children throughout U.S. history appear in frequent sidebars.  Photographs, paintings, etchings, posters, advertisements, and artifacts give the feeling of a scrapbook over which readers will want to linger.  Outstanding in every respect.

Reading Std #5: Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and/or larger portions of the text relate to each other and the whole.  Bolden uses sidebars effectively to add the voices of real children to her chronological narrative.  Have students consider the value of such quotes from primary sources and what they add to Bolden’s narrative.