Marian Anderson had a beautiful voice. In Austria, the world-famous conductor Arturo Toscanini announced that her voice was such that one was privileged to hear only once in a hundred years. Her singing career in Europe was very successful.
In her homeland of the United State, however, Marian faced rejection time after time because she was black. Understandably, Marian was reluctant to return to the U.S. When she finally did, the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to let her sing to an integrated audience in Constitutional Hall, which they owned. This created such a sense of outrage that thousands of women resigned their membership from the DAR. One of these women was the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt.
With the help of Eleanor and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Marian Anderson instead sang to tens of thousands of people — of all races — on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
From a teacher’s perspective, this book is wonderful on many levels. I have used this book in the classroom for teaching about civil rights but have also used it for Women’s History Month in March. Marian Anderson is an inspirational woman, and the illustrations in this book are beautiful.
Reading When Marian Sang renewed my interest in Eleanor Roosevelt. I have also held a fascination with Amelia Earhart. Another wonderful book by author Pam Muñoz Ryan and illustrator Brian Selznick tells the story of an adventure these two women have together.
Amelia and Eleanor combine forces to arrange in impromptu night flight during a formal dinner at the White House. The book does a wonderful job of explaining that independent women were not always allowed to do independent things when Amelia and Eleanor were alive. At the end of the story, Eleanor reciprocates on her magical flight with Amelia at the helm by taking Amelia for a drive in her new automobile. While Muñoz Ryan changed some facts to create this wonderful story, Amelia really did take Eleanor on a spontaneous night flight.
At the end of the story, the author included the recipe for Eleanor Roosevelt’s Angel Food Cake with Pink Clouds, an actual White House recipe. She also includes a historical photo taken of Amelia and Eleanor on the airplane during that night flight.
These three women are truly inspirational. These two books teach children some wonderful concepts such as equality, perseverance, and independence.
For more children book recommendations, visit Anne at Little Sprout Books!