Young, Gifted and Black by Jamia Wilson

Values: Hope, Equality, Respect, Confidence, Integrity and Compassion.

This non-fiction book celebrates over fifty Black iconic men and women and should be a staple in all schools. It is beautifully illustrated and easy to navigate. Furthermore, it has an excellent range of heroes represented to inspire children and young people today. Figures from Harriet Tubman to Barack Obama to Beyonce to Zadie Smith to Usain Bolt to Kofi Annan are celebrated in this empowering book. I really enjoyed the way Jamia Wilson has presented a summary of the icon and what makes their life so memorable, often along with a quote from that person to inspire and give hope to young people today.

Hope is the Value that shines through this book brightly to me. It gives hope for all young people that the future will see every ethnicity represented in who we call heroes. When discussing this book with some Year 3 and 4 children, they asked why the book solely concentrated on Black people. They thought it was unfair. This was around the time of the Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the globe in May/June of 2020. We ended up having a deep discussion about representation of people from different backgrounds and how historically white people have been over-represented in records, documents, statues, medals etc and that we now understand that we need to equally represent people of all colours. Therefore, teaching and talking about the Value of equality can help us to break down stereotypes and be critics of the literature that has dominated until recently.

We read some of the profiles together and thought about how hard some of these people had had to work to reach their goals. We admired their confidence and thought about what we would like to be known for, if it was us that was featured in a similar book. Lots of the children wanted to be remembered for being a sports man or woman or a great artist or author. Some wanted to be remembered for helping animals and the environment. We thought that something all of these people had in common was hard work and integrity - having strong, honest morals. We concluded that all of the icons are in the book because they have shown compassion and campaigned for a better life for others. For some this is what made them famous; for others, they have since used their voice and platform as a way of raising awareness of others' plight.

We could look at each individual in class and discuss the Values that person has shown. Many are still alive today and are able to be contacted. All could form the basis of a research project. Some are British and others are American; many more are from countries as far apart as Kenya, Brazil and South Africa. I think this book holds a wealth of opportunities for learning discreetly or explicitly about Values in action. It could even inspire another book to be collated with each pupil contributing one page of someone they feel has shown Values. They might be Black, or they may not.

If you would like a copy of this timeless classic for your home or school, you can get your hands on it at Amazon. I don't think you will regret it!

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