Title: Howard Thurman's Great Hope
Author: Kai Jackson Issa
Illustrator: Arthur L. Dawson
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level: 5.2
Concepts: economics of education, discrimination, jobs, poverty
Review: As a seventh grader in racially-segregated Daytona, Florida in 1914, Howard Thurman despaired at the thought of having to end his schooling and find a job. Daytona had only one public school for African American children and it ended with the seventh grade. Howard worked hard in school and he savored every minute; learning felt like piecing new ideas together in a jigsaw puzzle. He also worked hard before and after school delivering laundry to and from the fancy beach hotel in order to help his mother and grandmother make ends meet.
Despite the obstacles posed by poverty and racial discrimination, Howard pursued his dream of attending college with fierce determination and with the help of some generous mentors who believed in the potential of this brilliant young man. Howard not only graduated from Morehouse College as valedictorian, he also went on to become an ordained minister, a prolific writer, and an influential spiritual leader in the U.S. civil rights movement.
This powerful book pays tribute to an extraordinary man who devoted his life to promoting racial equality and social justice. Heavy topics perhaps, but the author skillfully wraps the biography into an enjoyable story, complete with the tale of a mysterious stranger at the railroad station whose impromptu donation to Howard’s train fare prevented his hopes from getting dashed. Howard Thurman’s life history, which this valuable book makes accessible to children, can prompt younger generations to see the inspiration that comes with kindness, role models, and big dreams.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children