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The 1619 Project: Born on the Water

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The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson. A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generati The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson. A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders. But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived.


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The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson. A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generati The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson. A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders. But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived.

30 review for The 1619 Project: Born on the Water

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bookishrealm

    FFirst, I will be buying a copy of this book for my daughter. Second, I can't see this book not getting nominations for some serious awards like the Caldecott or the Coretta Scott King Award. I received this book for review, but all thoughts are my own. Honestly, I had no idea that this book was forthcoming until I was scrolling through Eidelweiss and saw the cover then I saw "The 1619 Project" and I knew that it was a title that I was going to want to read. It begins with the main character fee FFirst, I will be buying a copy of this book for my daughter. Second, I can't see this book not getting nominations for some serious awards like the Caldecott or the Coretta Scott King Award. I received this book for review, but all thoughts are my own. Honestly, I had no idea that this book was forthcoming until I was scrolling through Eidelweiss and saw the cover then I saw "The 1619 Project" and I knew that it was a title that I was going to want to read. It begins with the main character feeling ashamed that she is unable to complete a school project about family ancestry. Unsurprisingly, like quite a few Black people she only knows her family history to a certain point (like her I only know up to about my great great grandmother). It's then that her grandmother tells her the true origins of her history. What follows next is a poetic and heartbreakingly beautiful exposition about the way in which our ancestors were stripped of everything they knew to be brought to an unfamiliar land. This book reminded me of a pretty popular quote, "People say that slaves were taken from Africa. This is not true. People were taken from Africa and were made into slaves." Our ancestors were robbed of their culture, traditions, their very way of life. Who we are now as Black Americans is the result of our ancestry being born on the water. Different tribes from various parts of the continent of Africa were forced together to form a new life, a way to survive the constant trauma inflicted on them. They chose to keep going and to somehow have hope that one day things would change. I don't know how they did it, but like the main character, I'm living that dream for them and it's something that I don't take likely and it's something that I'll never forget. Each poem in this book is sacred to me because it tells the story of where I come from even if I don't know the specifics. With artwork that is out of this world, rich paintings that evoke such deep emotions, this is easily one of my favorite books of 2021. Although it isn't out yet, I highly recommend that you keep this one on your radar.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    For as long as authors of books for children have determined that they should be open and honest with their young readers, they have struggled with how much trauma is appropriate. You hear this debate a lot as it pertains to the Holocaust. Should we put it in books? How often? How young should readers be to hear about it? How young is too young? There are strong opinions but no clear-cut answers. The same could be said about slavery in America. But for too long, the Black American history taught For as long as authors of books for children have determined that they should be open and honest with their young readers, they have struggled with how much trauma is appropriate. You hear this debate a lot as it pertains to the Holocaust. Should we put it in books? How often? How young should readers be to hear about it? How young is too young? There are strong opinions but no clear-cut answers. The same could be said about slavery in America. But for too long, the Black American history taught in schools has hooked its beginnings on the existence of slavery. Meanwhile the books kids were given to read with Black characters tended to rely on trauma and misery. It’s only been recently that the concept of #blackjoy, and handing kids books that star Black characters but aren’t all slavery or Civil Rights titles, has entered the mainstream vocabulary. And I want to be clear that yes, there is slavery in The 1619 Project: Born On the Water, but like this year’s surprisingly good Timelines From Black History: Leaders, Legends, Legacies, this book begins long before that slavery took place. “Their story does not begin with whips and chains” says the book. And poetry, at least this poetry, doesn't lie. Author Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson says in their Author’s Note that the intention here was to, “show that Black Americans have their own proud origin story, one that does not begin in slavery, in struggle, and in strife but that bridges the gap between Africa and the United States of America. We begin this book with the rich cultures of West Africa and then weave the tale of how after the Middle Passage, Black Americans created a new people here on this land.” And so our story starts with a Black girl in school being given an assignment to trace her roots and “Draw a flag that represents your ancestral land.” The girl is stumped. While the white kids around her are bragging on how many generations they have, she feels ashamed that she can only count back three. When she mentions this to her grandmother, Grandma gathers the whole family and begins to tell a story. She doesn’t begin in slavery, though. She begins before 1619 and the ship White Lion that brought slaves before even The Mayflower. She relates times in the Kingdom of Ndongo where the people, “knew the power of a seed, how to plant it, water it, how to make something out of nothing.” And yes, slavery took their ancestors. But the way she tells it you realize that this is a much bigger, more complicated story than the ones they teach the kids in school. Best of all, it leaves kids, just like the main character, holding up their heads with pride. Like other librarians I was more familiar with Renée Watson and her work than I was with Nikole Hannah-Jones. That is, until I realized that this was the same Nikole Hannah-Jones that declined a tenure offer at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, accepting a Knight Chair Appointment at Howard University. What's more, she’s the creator of the 1619 Project itself. Collaborator Renée Watson, on the other hand, has vast experience writing children’s and YA materials in a variety of different forms and formats. Whether it’s the picture book biography of Florence Mills ( Harlem’s Little Blackbird), early chapter book series (the Ryan Hart, stories), fictionalized biographies ( Betty Before X), realistic contemporary middle grades ( Some Places More Than Others), multiple anthologies or YA novels, she has this vast range. She’d never really done historical poetry before, but after reading this book you can see how well she adapts to new styles. So why poetry? Why use that particular form to tell this story? I’m always intrigued by an author’s choice to turn a book into verse. There are times that this choice feels off-handed and superficially stylistic. This is most often the case when you half suspect the designer of the book reset the typeface and rearranged the book so that it looks like verse, just so that they could fill space. Not so here. Since this is Grandma’s story in Grandma’s voice, you need a clear delineation between the present and the past. Poetry provides that important break, but has other functions as well. For example, look at how repetition in the book is key. Notice how Watson uses that repetition on lines like, “They spoke Kimbundu, had their own words”. There are others too. “We are in a strange land … But we are here and we will make this home.” It’s a chant. Thanks to poetry, the child reader finds a comfort in the repeated lines, both before and after the traumatizing events. More to the point, the repetition in the second half of the book harkens back to the repetition in the first half, making it clear that the people who have been stolen are carrying with them things from home that cannot be carried anywhere but inside. The book also goes right for the jugular. Talking about the moment when the people were stolen the text reads that, “They did not get to pack bags stuffed with cherished things, with the doll grandmamma had woven from tall grass…” Watch how artist Nikkolas Smith renders the village, empty and destroyed, one doll woven from grass tied to a tree alone. “Ours is no immigration story.” This story does not begin with slavery because if you start with slavery then you have no sense of what has been lost. Roots knew this. Kids books have a tendency to forget. Now I would love to hear the story of how artist Nikkolas Smith was added to this project. Out of curiosity I took a look at his website and what I saw there was this jaw-dropping range of styles to rival Renée Watson herself . The man is just as comfortable rendering an image with Pixar-level smoothness as he is the broad, thick brush strokes of paint you’d find in any Impressionist painting. Yet when it comes to books for kids, it feels as though he’s been reigning himself in. This isn’t uncommon amongst fine artists making the transition to picture books. Too often they dumb down their style or iron out whatever it is that makes them unique. This in spite of the fact that if they embrace the bookmaking process with the same vigor they do their art, they could end up with a multi-award winner like Gordon C. James’s work on Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut. Fortunately, somewhere between his first few books and Born on the Water a switch was flipped. These paints are unrestrained, the brush strokes thick, plentiful, and beautiful. In his Note at the back of the book he credits Central West Africa for the details in architecture, hair, instruments, clothing, and more he chose to include. He uses “African scarification pattern motifs, where Life, Death, and Rebirth are present.” But on top of all that, on top of the sheer beauty of the paint itself, he knows how to render laughter. Sometimes I think laughter that looks like laughter must be the most difficult thing an artist can create. Not so for Mr. Smith. He can do misery and cruelty and pain as well as anyone else, but he does full-throated joy just as well. Not everyone is so talented. A person could take a much deeper dive into the art than I have here. The endpapers alone are worth a ten-minute discussion, after all. There’s a lot more to say about the text too. We could discuss how this whole endeavor could easily have tipped sideways. How countless books with good intentions have sunk under the weight of their material, rendering their subject matter flat and, in spite of the content, uninteresting to kids. This book, I believe kids will like. Effort has been put into the text, and the framing sequence (a class assignment that more than one kid will recognize from their own life) is a brilliant way to couch this. This book is clever and gutting and gorgeous. And here’s the highest compliment of all: I truly believe that a kid, on their own, would read this multiple times. It’s a marvelous testament to not just the power of reclaiming your own story, but the story of your ancestors as well. A rarity deserving of discovery.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Raymond

    Amazing illustrations, powerful poems. A book that teaches Black children that they come from strong and resilient people who were free before they were enslaved and who helped build America. A powerful book!!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Diane Yannick

    This book is absolutely gorgeous, truly a masterpiece. Nicole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson have written a book for single every human, regardless of age or ethnicity. I believe that we need to work harder to open our hearts and reconsider others’ origin stories. It’s so easy to accept whitewashed, simplified, often inaccurate textbook versions of our history. We owe it to our children to do new research rather than repeat platitudes. “They had a home, a place, a land, a beginning. This story is This book is absolutely gorgeous, truly a masterpiece. Nicole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson have written a book for single every human, regardless of age or ethnicity. I believe that we need to work harder to open our hearts and reconsider others’ origin stories. It’s so easy to accept whitewashed, simplified, often inaccurate textbook versions of our history. We owe it to our children to do new research rather than repeat platitudes. “They had a home, a place, a land, a beginning. This story is our story. Before they were Enslaved, they were free.” “We are in a strange land, they said. But we are here and we will make this home. We have our songs, our recipes, our know-how We have our joy. We will love, laugh, and sing and hug our children as tight as you can hold a child. We will survive because we have each other.” Added to the beauty of words like the above are meaningful illustrations by the talented Nikkolas Smith. You need to own this book. Really.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan David Pope

    “Born on the Water” is a gorgeously illustrated work, that accomplishes the task of retelling and most importantly correcting the American history we are often taught. It’s poetic, heartbreakingly beautiful. And goes to show the resistance and survival of our people who “had a home, a place, a land before they were sold.” My only critique would be the ending: “And because the people survived and because the people fought, America has equality in the law. And because the people survived and because th “Born on the Water” is a gorgeously illustrated work, that accomplishes the task of retelling and most importantly correcting the American history we are often taught. It’s poetic, heartbreakingly beautiful. And goes to show the resistance and survival of our people who “had a home, a place, a land before they were sold.” My only critique would be the ending: “And because the people survived and because the people fought, America has equality in the law. And because the people survived and because the people fought, American began to live up to its promise of democracy.” I think that this children’s book could have left this as a question…something for it’s readers both children and adults to ponder. Will America ever live up to it’s promise? Will the law ever be truly equal?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michele Knott

    Necessary reading for all white humans. Powerful and needed book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lee

    The educators' guide by Dr. Sonja Cherry Paul is just about as important as the book. Study it before you ever share the book with students. https://storage.googleapis.com/classr... And make sure you are prepared to give plenty of time to this book. It is not a quick one-and-done read aloud. The educators' guide by Dr. Sonja Cherry Paul is just about as important as the book. Study it before you ever share the book with students. https://storage.googleapis.com/classr... And make sure you are prepared to give plenty of time to this book. It is not a quick one-and-done read aloud.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tichana

    **** 4.5 **** I love reading children's books, especially the ones that tackle racism and diversity, use great language, and have illustrations. Born on the Water did all of that and more. It's a story about a little girl who wants to know where her ancestors came from and her grandmother ends up telling her a story about the first slaves that arrived in Virginia. I think every parent should get this book and read it to their children. To understand the beginning of the United States that is **** 4.5 **** I love reading children's books, especially the ones that tackle racism and diversity, use great language, and have illustrations. Born on the Water did all of that and more. It's a story about a little girl who wants to know where her ancestors came from and her grandmother ends up telling her a story about the first slaves that arrived in Virginia. I think every parent should get this book and read it to their children. To understand the beginning of the United States that is America. To credit its right builders. Although it's extremely tragic, this conversation should be introduced and discussed with children. Definitely recommend it. The illustrations are absolutely stunning.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jay DeMoir

    Profound

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Devastating. Beautiful. Necessary. Every 3rd grade classroom in the US should teach this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I finished this book wondering yet again why there are those who oppose the teaching of this part of America’s history. How can we deny our African-American citizens the history of how they came here and who they were before they were put on slave ships? We can’t change the ugly past, but we can do better than this. We can be better than this. But first we have to know the truth. There’s no reason to fear the truth if we are big enough to find a better way forward.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly A.

    Powerful words combined with absolutely gorgeous art.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Breanna

    Absolutely stunning. Tears formed many times while reading this, but the Legacy page is when they almost broke. The art, especially the hair, really moved me. My people are so beautiful!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    This phenomenal picture book came together with two writers and an illustrator. One writer was the creator of the 1619 project itself and the other is a well-known YA and middle grade author. The illustrator uses paint to create a vivid story of how the first people of Africa were kidnapped and brought to Virginia to become slaves. With more words than a traditional picture book, it has a mood, tells a story within a story, and showcases the past for the understanding of the future. It's richly This phenomenal picture book came together with two writers and an illustrator. One writer was the creator of the 1619 project itself and the other is a well-known YA and middle grade author. The illustrator uses paint to create a vivid story of how the first people of Africa were kidnapped and brought to Virginia to become slaves. With more words than a traditional picture book, it has a mood, tells a story within a story, and showcases the past for the understanding of the future. It's richly colorful with the scheme chosen in the paint style and the words pay homage to the story that is the dangerous part of American history that needs to be told.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Janae (The Modish Geek)

    Necessary. The illustrations are beautiful.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    READ THIS BOOK

  17. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Well written about slavery in this country. Talks about slavery in terms of how it happened. And helps children understand how owning other people and treating them as an object is wrong.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Aurora

    The illustrations and poems were breathtaking!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura Harrison

    One of my very favorite fall titles. Powerful, dramatic and beautiful. I anticipate it to win awards in 2022

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Burstrem

    I was so excited to finally get this beautiful book from the library and read it with my 10yo last week. It helped him understand so much that I've struggled to impart to him. It is thorough and deeply significant as well as accessible -- a much-needed contribution to children's literature. I was so excited to finally get this beautiful book from the library and read it with my 10yo last week. It helped him understand so much that I've struggled to impart to him. It is thorough and deeply significant as well as accessible -- a much-needed contribution to children's literature.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    A beautiful story, but also heartbreaking and tragic. This story went into the average life of random people who lived in Africa before the colonizers stole from the and robed these poor people. Paintings occasionallywill have no words but the arts speaks it’s own voice. This is a huge game changer.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bek MoonyReadsByStarlight

    Excellent, brilliant - doesn't shy away from hard issues while being age-appropriate. I do take issue with the very end of the book, but it's still leagues better than most kid's books on the topic. Excellent, brilliant - doesn't shy away from hard issues while being age-appropriate. I do take issue with the very end of the book, but it's still leagues better than most kid's books on the topic.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Born on the Water needs to win some type of award. The writing was beautifully poetic, and the illustrations captured so much emotion. My 9-year-old daughter and I both loved reading this book together. Something that I really loved about this book was that it talked about the lives of the people before they were forced to become slaves. The book talked about their language, families, and culture before they were stolen. Such an important read for both kids and adults. I highly recommend this bo Born on the Water needs to win some type of award. The writing was beautifully poetic, and the illustrations captured so much emotion. My 9-year-old daughter and I both loved reading this book together. Something that I really loved about this book was that it talked about the lives of the people before they were forced to become slaves. The book talked about their language, families, and culture before they were stolen. Such an important read for both kids and adults. I highly recommend this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Candice Hale

    Representation matters, but even more so for Black people in this country. In media and publishing, representation for Black characters are still a problem when it shouldn’t be. Diversity and inclusion is very simple to do, but whiteness and erasure keeps gaining traction to make others invisible whenever possible. If not for journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and author Renée Watson and their project 𝘽𝙤𝙧𝙣 𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙒𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙧, then our stories and histories would remain lost at sea and unrepresented to the Representation matters, but even more so for Black people in this country. In media and publishing, representation for Black characters are still a problem when it shouldn’t be. Diversity and inclusion is very simple to do, but whiteness and erasure keeps gaining traction to make others invisible whenever possible. If not for journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and author Renée Watson and their project 𝘽𝙤𝙧𝙣 𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙒𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙧, then our stories and histories would remain lost at sea and unrepresented to the generations of American children that deserve to have pride and know their beginnings. 𝘽𝙤𝙧𝙣 𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙒𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙧 is the book that so many of us failed to have available in our homes, our libraries, and our schools when we needed a story to represent what it meant to be a Black child in America. Illustrated by by artivist Nikkolas Smith, this picture book includes individuals poems and beautiful artwork that traces the birth of our people on the water 400 years ago in 1619 in West Africa, stolen by European enslavers, and then later abused and dehumanized during American slavery. Hannah-Jones and Watson create poems that are truthful, powerful, and necessary for educating ALL children in this country. Hannah-Jones and Watson trumpet in this book loud and clear to “Black American children who may be longing to feel connected to their roots [to] come away empowered by the knowledge that there is no shame in descending from American slavery , and with the understanding that they come from a resident people who loved, resisted, and persevered.” 𝘽𝙤𝙧𝙣 𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙒𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙧 is the children’s version to 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝟭𝟲𝟭𝟵 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗷𝗲𝗰𝘁 and very essential to understanding American history and healing the legacy of the past. The past is really never past, but we can’t heal if we never confront it either. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  25. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    I first picked this book up because I loved the 1619 project, and understand the importance of going back to the earliest parts of American history and telling it from the voices of the black people who were there. I loved how this book was both unflinching at the horror and trauma of slavery, while honoring the ingenuity, creativity, resilience, community, and even joy of enslaved black Americans. I also loved the way the book traced back the history of black Americans to West African civilizat I first picked this book up because I loved the 1619 project, and understand the importance of going back to the earliest parts of American history and telling it from the voices of the black people who were there. I loved how this book was both unflinching at the horror and trauma of slavery, while honoring the ingenuity, creativity, resilience, community, and even joy of enslaved black Americans. I also loved the way the book traced back the history of black Americans to West African civilizations. I'm ashamed to admit it, but this book was the first time I'd learned about the Kingdom of Ndongo. Their story did not begin with whips and chains. They had a home, a place, a land, a beginning. Their story is our story. Before they were enslaved, they were free. Nikkolas Smith´s illustrations are impressionistic and loose, giving a sense to me as if they are actively in the act of unburying and rewriting a history that has been purposefully obfuscated. I love the way that details blur into the background, while faces remain sharp, pointed, and clear.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Love to see the narrative being claimed on subject of slavery! This is a beautiful intro for those of the younger-set. The words were lyrical. But it was the drawings that just made this a “WOW!” reading for me. Also, a note unrelated to my review of this book: Sometimes, before I post my review, I will look at the reviews of those who posted a star rating much lower than my own rating (or even much higher). I do it mostly to get a feel for if I may have missed a glaring detail that should affect Love to see the narrative being claimed on subject of slavery! This is a beautiful intro for those of the younger-set. The words were lyrical. But it was the drawings that just made this a “WOW!” reading for me. Also, a note unrelated to my review of this book: Sometimes, before I post my review, I will look at the reviews of those who posted a star rating much lower than my own rating (or even much higher). I do it mostly to get a feel for if I may have missed a glaring detail that should affect my own viewing of the work. It rarely changes my opinion – but looking at those other ratings can often change the wording of my review as I address concerns or points. With this book? As I post, there are 10 one-star ratings and not a single one of them was brave enough to explain why they gave it a one-star. I understand if you do not like star-ratings. I do not understand giving a super low star-rating without explanation. It doesn’t have to be lengthy. But … explain yourself.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andre

    Amazing in its execution. Manages to tell the brutal enslavement story through verse and vivid paintings, but does so in a way that children of the water can retain pride and excitement about the resilience and ability of the people born on the water. I love everything about the book, including the title. I’ve often argued for a term that would more accurately reflect a people thrown together from different family clans to form a new people in a new land. So, people born on the water speaks to Amazing in its execution. Manages to tell the brutal enslavement story through verse and vivid paintings, but does so in a way that children of the water can retain pride and excitement about the resilience and ability of the people born on the water. I love everything about the book, including the title. I’ve often argued for a term that would more accurately reflect a people thrown together from different family clans to form a new people in a new land. So, people born on the water speaks to that. And perhaps a proper appellation is still forthcoming. This book helps children and adults answer the question of how this all started, and especially for Black children, allows them to shout, I, too sing America. For America would not be what it is, without the people and their descendants who were born on the water.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    This is a book that I would have loved to have as a kid. Much like the little girl in the story, I can only trace my family back 3 or 4 generations, then nothing. Slavery took that way and in American schools the depth and breadth of slavery and it's consequences are not taught. As a Black American, I am taught that my history begins at slavery. This book help explains that Black people in America are much more than the descendants of slaves. We had entire histories and cultures for the Trans-Atl This is a book that I would have loved to have as a kid. Much like the little girl in the story, I can only trace my family back 3 or 4 generations, then nothing. Slavery took that way and in American schools the depth and breadth of slavery and it's consequences are not taught. As a Black American, I am taught that my history begins at slavery. This book help explains that Black people in America are much more than the descendants of slaves. We had entire histories and cultures for the Trans-Atlantic slave trade robbed us of that. It's explained in such a way that children will understand. The poetry in this book is beautiful and the illustrations are stunning. Adults will appreciate this book as much as children. Absolutely amazing!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    In 1619, many people were "born on the water" - people who survived harsh, unfair, and violent environments to live where they did not choose to settle. Ancestors were stolen from their homes in West Africa and brought to America. They had their own homes, their own talents, their own language. But they did not get to say goodbye, pack a bag, or save their treasured items for a journey to a new land. "Ours is no immigration story." I certainly never heard this story of America's slaves before. T In 1619, many people were "born on the water" - people who survived harsh, unfair, and violent environments to live where they did not choose to settle. Ancestors were stolen from their homes in West Africa and brought to America. They had their own homes, their own talents, their own language. But they did not get to say goodbye, pack a bag, or save their treasured items for a journey to a new land. "Ours is no immigration story." I certainly never heard this story of America's slaves before. Thanks to Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson for this new picture book that tells of struggle, but also of perseverance, hope, and survival. We need to know the truth of our past so that we can change the future. The audiobook is read by the author(s) and is beautiful and lyrical. I listened to it before seeing the book's illustrations. I recommend having both the text/illustrations and audio together.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    A child’s dilemma with a school project regarding her ancestry inspires her grandmother to tell her the story of her ancestors whose lives—familial, communal, creative and intellectual lives—were honorable and purposeful. Her African ancestors were stolen and brought to this country in 1619-long before it was the United States. In spite of cruel and despicable hardships, those who survived the journey and generations who came after them, persevered with purpose, determination, accomplishments an A child’s dilemma with a school project regarding her ancestry inspires her grandmother to tell her the story of her ancestors whose lives—familial, communal, creative and intellectual lives—were honorable and purposeful. Her African ancestors were stolen and brought to this country in 1619-long before it was the United States. In spite of cruel and despicable hardships, those who survived the journey and generations who came after them, persevered with purpose, determination, accomplishments and deep connections to each other. The child’s grandmother helps her to understand the incredible strength, intelligence, commitment and purpose of her ancestors. She completes the school project proudly claiming her rights as an American. The illustrations are strong and evocative.

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