One Black History Month, Vashti Harrison challenged herself to draw an African American woman from history every day during the month of February. Drawing, researching and reading about inspirational black women struck an emotional chord with Harrison, and what started off as a personal project turned into a book, and what a book it is.
In Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, Vashti Harrison introduces young children to forty truly inspirational black women. Whilst the focus is mostly on women born in the USA, it is great that some notable black women from around the world are recognised. Well-known names of Harriet Tubman, Ella Fitzgerald, Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey sit alongside the lesser-known names of Mary Bowser, Zora Neale Hurston, Shirley Chisholm and Julie Dash. These are just some of the extraordinary women that you get to meet in this brilliant book that celebrates inspirational and trail-blazing women who have had a significant role in shaping the world that we live in today and have forged a path for other black children and women to follow. The women come from all walks of life, succeeded in a wide range of fields and are all equally deserving of their place.
All the women faced varying challenges: born into slavery, fighting for equal rights, proving that women were as capable as the men (if not more so), standing up to society, challenging gender and racial prejudices. These women suffered bullying, belittling and put-downs. Yet they would not be silenced or succumb to the expectations of family and society or accept something that they knew was wrong, unfair or unjust. They refused to accept defeat and to conform to stereotypes. Instead, they were courageous, they risked everything and they pursued their dreams. These women were, and are, the go-getters, the game-changers, the tearer downers of barriers and they have inspired generations. Many, if not all, leaving lasting legacies.
Each figure is presented over a double page. A short, inspiring biography details childhood, growing-up, accomplishments, achievements and legacy. An adorably cute illustration is on the facing page. Each biography gives a snapshot of the individual, they are a lovely introduction to each of the women and many will leave readers wanting to find out more. The book could easily be much, much longer and I would not have minded in the slightest, it was fascinating and richly rewarding to learn about so many wonderful black women. Harrison acknowledges the difficulty in narrowing her selection down to just forty and as an added bonus a further twelve women with mini-illustrations and very mini-biographies are profiled at the end.
Beautifully presented, lovingly researched and packed full of information; this is a celebration of black women. It is a superbly informative read that is motivational, inspiring and shows what is possible when you dare to dream and are determined to break down barriers. Packed full of black-girl-power and can do attitude, this is a book that all young children, especially black girls, should have the opportunity to read.
Recommended for 7+.