Also by this author: His Testimonies, My Heritage: Women of Color on the Word of God, Maria Fearing: The Girl Who Dreamed of Distant Lands
Series: Do Great Things for God #10
Published by Good Book Company on February 1, 2024
Genres: Children's, Children's Educational
Buy on Amazon
Inspiring children's biography of Fannie Lou Hamer, a Civil Rights activist who stood up for the vulnerable and contended for the rights of unborn children.
Read the true story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a Civil Rights activist who courageously stood up for the vulnerable and contended for the rights of unborn children.
Living in Mississippi, "Mother Hamer" left school at six and was subjected to the racist "Jim Crow" laws. She and her friends marched for the right to vote and became known as "the Freedom Fighters." Fannie was imprisoned and beaten but eventually was able to speak to the Houses of Congress in Washington, D.C. Having won the vote, Mother Hamer helped bring people out of poverty and stood up for the right of unborn children to be born and to be loved.
This beautifully illustrated children's biography of Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977) features engaging illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos. It is part of a series called Do Great Things For God, which is designed to show kids that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
I have greatly enjoyed the Do Great Things for God series so far, and this is another wonderful installment. K.A. Ellis shares Fannie Lou Hamer’s powerful story in a way that is age-appropriate for young children, and the illustrations from Shin Maeng are both realistic and stylistic, capturing recognizable likenesses and conveying themes about oppression and faith. This inspiring picture book biography explores how Hamer’s faith in Jesus inspired her activism during the Civil Rights Movement, and the story shows how she marched for voting rights, made speeches, fought hunger through community farming, and advocated for pro-life causes. At the end of the book, there is a photograph of Hamer, along with a key Bible verse, discussion questions, and a timeline.
Fannie Lou Hamer: The Courageous Woman Who Marched for Dignity is honest about harsh realities while still being appropriate for a young elementary audience. This book covers multiple heavy topics, such as segregation, poverty, violence, and police brutality, and Ellis also briefly mentions that because of ways that hateful people harmed her, Hamer was unable to have biological children and adopted kids with her husband instead. Ellis covers all of these issues briefly and with gentle, kid-friendly language, highlighting the ways that Hamer’s Christian faith sustained her and shaped her commitment to upholding human dignity.
However, because this book deals with so many complex topics, I think this would be even stronger if there was a note for parents at the end. Because I am knowledge about this historical period and have read about Fannie Lou Hamer’s life before, I was able to mentally fill in some of the gaps in this simplified version for children, but adults who are less familiar with the topic may feel unprepared to answer children’s questions. Although they can certainly do their own research, I think that a brief, adult-level overview of the story at the end would make this book even better. On that note, older kids and adults might also enjoy Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, a longer, more in-depth picture book biography by Carole Boston Weatherford.
Fannie Lou Hamer: The Courageous Woman Who Marched for Dignity is an excellent book that introduces an inspiring Civil Rights figure to young children. This book shares her story in a brief, simple way that draws out multiple important themes about her faith and activism, and the text and illustrations work together beautifully to tell this powerful story. Although this book might be too much for some sensitive kids to handle, it is appropriate for the intended age range, and it is a great way for parents to start teaching their kids about difficult historical topics.