The books in this category tell the life stories of real people, some famous and others less well known. In many of these books the focus of the biography is the person's contribution to making a better world; in many there is also the theme of obstacles that had to be overcome in order for the person to succeed.
The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights Written by Russel Freedman This book is a chronological account of one of the nation's greatest African-American vocalists, from her childhood in Philadelphia through her acclaimed U.S. and European concert tours in the 1920s and 1930s. Though Anderson did not set out to be a political activist, her prominence put her in a position to expose the injustices of segregation. Anderson’s historic 1939 Easter concert at the Lincoln Memorial—a response to the Daughters of the American Revolution's refusal to allow her to appear at Constitution Hall—is a milestone in both musical and civil rights history. The book includes archival photographs and a selected bibliography and discography. [Grade Level: 4 - 9]
When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson Pam Muñoz Ryan (Author), Brian Selznick (Illustrator) Marian Anderson is best known for her historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, which drew an integrated crowd of over 75,000 people in pre-Civil Rights America. While this momentous event showcased the uniqueness of her character, and the struggles of the times in which she lived, it is only part of her story. This portrait of Anderson takes us from her childhood, singing in church, to her rejection from a music school that barred "colored" people, to her rise to prominence despite the racial barriers of the times. The book includes evocative illustrations and lyrics from some of Anderson's songs. [Grade Level: 1 - 5]