Author Spotlight: Carole Boston Weatherford

The author of multiple books, Carole Boston Weatherford "mines the past for family stories, fading traditions and forgotten struggles" to write poetry, nonfiction, and picture books that give pride of place to the African American experience.

The prolific author of multiple books for children, young people, and adults, Carole Boston Weatherford "mines the past for family stories, fading traditions and forgotten struggles" to write poetry, nonfiction, and picture books that give pride of place to the African American experience. Appropriate for young readers from preschool to young adult, her work deserves a place in your classroom or home library.

Carole Boston Weatherford was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and wrote her first poem while in the first grade. She continued writing throughout her formative years, but it was only after becoming a parent that she pursued writing full-time, entering a creative writing program at University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Her first book, Juneteenth Jamboree, was published in 1995. Since then Boston Weatherford has published many more works and won several awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award. She now lives in North Carolina, and teaches in the English department at Fayetteville State University.

Boston Weatherford is particularly known for her biographies of notable African Americans, one of which I've witten about before. Her picture book about John Coltrane's childhood, with its rhyming text and repetition, is ideal for the preschool set. If you are looking for a picture book biography suitable for older students, check out her biography of activist Fannie Lou Hamer. Presented as a collection of poems in prose, this truth-telling account of Famer's life lays bare the injustices she fought against, such as racism, police brutality, and voter disenfranchisement.

You also won't want to miss her Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winning biography of Harriet Tubman, Moses. Sumptiously illustrated by the incomparable Kadir Nelson, this book highlights how Tubman's deep religious faith led her to defy the laws of her day, escaping slavery to find freedom in Philadelphia. Later, that same faith would bolster her as she returned  to the South time and time again to lead others to freedom.

Religious or spiritual themes appear in other books by Weatherford. Written as a Black mother's prayer for a firstborn son, "In Your Hands" beautifully renders her hopes for her child: that whenever he is out in the world, that he be safe, that the world see him "as a child of God,"  and not someone to be feared. As she writes:

"Black lives matter. Your life matters."

Unequivocally.

In The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights, Weatherford uses the biblical text as the backdrop for a powerful free verse poem about the trials and triumphs of Africans and their descendants in the United States. From the horrors of the Middle Passage, the Civil Rights Movement, and the present day, Weatherford describes how "the downtrodden and those who seek uplift" are not alone.

The widget below features some of Weatherford's many books available in our collection. Included is Weatherford's newest book, The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip-Hop. This marvelous book combines poetry, biography, and bold illustrations to trace the evolution of hip hop, focusing on its birth in New York City with breakdancing and house parties, as well as highlighting its biggest and earliest stars such as the Sugar Hill Gang, Run-D.M.C., and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. This book is great for a classroom unit on poetry, art, or history. As Weatherford writes, "hip hop is a language that's spoken the whole world 'round."

 

 

 

Comments

I am so glad you wrote this article about Carole Boston Weatherford. She is one of my favorite picture book authors! Great job!

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