Bearing the same name as Nina Simone’s iconic song, “Young, Gifted, and Black” explores the lives of 52 black people, both past and present, who have helped shaped different aspects of black culture.

As author Jamia Wilson explains in the foreword, “this book is a love letter to our ancestors and the next generation of black changemakers,” and it truly is, breaking the mold of most books on black history to include current black revolutionaries while also paying homage to those from the past. Using muted neon colors and varying shapes and patterns, illustrator Andrea Pippins crafts wild backdrops and quirky, unique portraits to accompany the short biographies, breathing life and character into Wilson’s words. I was pleasantly surprised to see contemporary heroes like Zadie Smith and Simon Biles featured alongside historic figures such as Josephine Baker and Maya Angelou, as highlighting such a diverse group of people allows children to discover new role models they may have never known existed.

This is a great introductory book to give to any child interested in history and could serve as a launching point for adults looking to introduce their children to a diverse mix of historical figures.

This review is generously provided by Takoma Bookstore Supervisor, Melanie Kates.

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