“Odetta The Queen of Folk” by Stephen Alcorn

This beautifully illustrated and poetically told picture book about Odetta Holmes can be shared with young students  just on its language and colorful pictures alone.  It’s a kid-friendly biography of 1960s era black folk singer, Odetta Holmes. Classically trained, Ms. Holmes became known during the Civil Rights movement as a folk singer, although her songs actually blend spirituals, jazz, and blues.  She performed at Carnegie Hall and the Newport Folk Festival, as well as at various Civil Rights protests, including the 1963 March on Washington.

Odetta The Queen of Folk can also be shared with older students during lessons on figurative and poetic language. I would hope that teachers would play some of her music (easily accessible on youtube and itunes) when using this lovely book in class.  Music teachers would find this a useful bridge between literature and folk songs.

I’m always trying to go outside of the usual “heroes” during Black History Month (as intriguing as their stories are). This picture book would introduce children to a unique black history figure who is probably unknown to them.

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