Carter Reads the Newspaper by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Don Tate

Carter Reads the Newspaper by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Don Tate
Review Copy from Peachtree Press
"The teaching of the whole truth will help us in the direction of a real democracy." 
Carter G. Woodson, 1944
Carter Reads the Newspaper is an incredible book about an amazing man. Hopkinson's biography of the father of Black History Month encompasses an accomplished life lived during a challenging era and a stunning legacy that benefits all Americans. Born ten years after the end of the Civil War, Woodson was the son of parents born enslaved people. Woodson's family struggled with poverty, but he was able to attend school four months out of the year and, while Carter's father couldn't read or write, he believed in being and informed citizen and had Carter read the paper to him. Although he had to work rather than go to school, Carter was fortunate to find a friend in fellow miner Oliver Jones, a Civil War Veteran who believed in education. Oliver turned his home into a reading room, "filling it with books by African-American writers and with newspapers from all over the country." It was there that Carter once again found himself reading the newspaper out loud. And if his audience had any questions about what he read, it was up to Carter to research the answers.
At the age of twenty, Carter was able to attend high school, finishing in two years. He went on to college and became a teacher and earned a master's degree when he was thirty-three. When he was thirty-seven, Carter earned a PhD in history from Harvard University, becoming the second African-American to do so, after W.E.B. Du Bois, and the first and only Black American born to parents who were slaves to earn a doctorate in history.
Hopkinson cites a professor at Harvard who claimed that Black people had no history (to which Carter responded, "No people lacked a history,") as the motivation for Dr. Woodson's drive to honor and recognize the contributions of African-Americans to history. Three years after earning his doctorate at Harvard, Dr. Woodson founded the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Hopkinson writes in her author's note, Dr. Woodson reminded us that ordinary people belong in history." In 1926, Dr. Woodson established Black History Week, choosing the second week in February to mark the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, Black History Week became Black History Month.
Don Tate's illustrations are perfectly paired with Hopkinson's straightforward text. He presents moments of brutality, as when Anne Eliza Riddle Woodson, Carter's mother, offered to go onto the auction block instead of her mother in the hopes of keeping her with her children and also when Dr. Woodson is hit by a falling slab of slate while working in the mines, with pain while keeping it appropriate for young readers. Tate shines when he is illustrating figures from history, as seen on the endpapers and throughout the book. Happily, back matter includes a list of the Black leaders pictured throughout the book along with a short biography.

Carter Reads the Newspaper pairs perfectly with the story of another great man who worked to excavate and preserve stories of great Africans and African Americans
Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library

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