Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

Hardcover, 40 pages
Published January 2013

One day when Nelson Mandela was nine years old, his father died and he was sent from his village to a school far away from home, to another part of South Africa. In Johannesburg, Mandela saw fellow Africans who were poor and powerless. He decided then that he would work to protect them. When the government began to keep people apart based on the color of their skin, Mandela spoke out against the law and vowed to fight hard in order to make his country a place that belonged to all South Africans.

Kadir Nelson tells the story of Mandela, a global icon, in poignant verse and glorious illustrations. It is the story of a young boy's determination to change South Africa and of the struggles of a man who eventually became the president of his country by believing in equality for people of all colors. Readers will be inspired by Mandela's triumph and his lifelong quest to create a more just world.

Kadir Nelson has a way of not only empowering us with his words but leaving us in awe of his artwork. This is one of my favorite books not only because it is about one of my heroes, but also because the artwork is worthy of hanging on my walls. As with all of his books, I find myself staring at the art long after I have finished reading the words on the pages.

With the issues that our country is facing today, Nelson Mandela's story is a way for the door of conversation to be opened. Not only is this book written to tell us the story of Mandela's life, but also what he stood for and fought for. The last two pages give us more detailed information about Mandela's life, his marriage to Winnie, life in prison, and his life after (including his presidency).

I have to brag a little because I was able to meet Kadir this past November at the NCTE Convention in Minneapolis and had his sign my book! He is a quiet force to be reckoned with. I did not feel worthy.   

This book is a must read for all ages!

Ideas for the classroom: 

When teaching the Civil Rights Movement, use Nelson Mandela as a read aloud to compare and contrast what was going on in South Africa and in the American South. Have the students discuss and create a Vin Diagram in small groups. Meet together with a class and expand your Vin Diagram to include recent events of racial discrimination that have occurred in present day America. Present articles for students to complete close reads with to research these events. is a great resource for articles which also allows to you level the articles for your students (hello differentiation!). 

Students could then write a research paper, paragraph, or blurb comparing and contrasting each of these. You could also assign certain students to compare/contrast specific events. You know your students, so adjust your lesson accordingly!

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