My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When I think about the vast wealth of African American history I never learned in school as a child, I am all the more grateful for books like Hammering for Freedom by Rita Lorraine Hubbard. It tells the story of William Lewis, a Chattanooga, Tennesse man who was born into slavery (circa the first decade of the 1800s). William “Bill” Lewis became a Blacksmith and was so good that he started earning his own money. He set his mind to saving up the money he needed to free his family. He labored grueling hours for many years over liquid flames, but he worked his plan and saw it through to fruition until every last one of his family members was free.
Rita Lorraine Hubbard did an excellent job with this book, earning herself the well deserved Lee and Low New Voices Award. Her book provides a great introduction to a man who’d forged a “daring plan;” one that would forever change the lives of his family. I would recommend this book for 2nd through 5th grade. It would make a good read aloud any time of the year and is one that should be displayed prominently and shared widely beyond Black History Month.
Nonfiction picture book biographies are more than just informative, they are empowering because of their accessibility to a wide range of readers. In the K-12 setting, they have been the perfect platform by which to introduce students to unsung/hidden figures of history, making them hidden no more. I can proudly count Hammering for Freedom among some of my favorite nonfiction books that I’ve read so far this school year like, Dee Romito’s Pies from Nowhere, Carole Boston Weatherford’s The Roots of Rap, and Tami Charles’s Fearless Mary. All three of these plus Hammering for Freedom have either been added or will soon be added to my K-5 library collection.
Rita Lorraine Hubbard | https://ritahubbard.com/
John Holyfield | http://www.holyfieldstudio.com/
Lee & Low Books| https://www.leeandlow.com/