Our People

Our People

by Angela Shelf Medearis, Michael Bryant

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“Daddy says our people built the pyramids. Our people were kings and queens . . . poets and mathematicians . . . artists who built beautiful statues . . . “

Our People celebrates the legacy of African Americans through an intimate conversation between a contemporary father and daughter. As they explore together the history of their people, from


“Daddy says our people built the pyramids. Our people were kings and queens . . . poets and mathematicians . . . artists who built beautiful statues . . . “

Our People celebrates the legacy of African Americans through an intimate conversation between a contemporary father and daughter. As they explore together the history of their people, from Ancient Africa through slavery to present day, they share a special bond—with each other, with the past, and with the heroic individuals who are part of our heritage. An inspiring book about both history and possibility, Our People will inspire young readers to imagine their past and envision the realities of their futures.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Medearis ( Come This Far to Freedom: A History of African Americans ) writes in the voice of an African American girl whose father has told her a great deal about the accomplishments of earlier African Americans, beginning with the ancient Egyptians (``Daddy says our people built the pyramids''). Her paraphrases are followed by expressions of the girl's desire to have taken part in such achievements (``I wish I could have been there. I would have helped them with the plans''). She concludes that ``Daddy says our people have a glorious past, but that I have a glorious future. . . . I want to do something great. Just like the rest of our people''--an indisputably worthwhile message. Yet Medearis's insistence on initiating each discussion with the same phrase (``Daddy says'') results in monotonous reading, and the narrative suffers from overly general remarks, such as ``Daddy says that our people created inventions that are still used today. He says that every time we stop at a stoplight or change a light bulb we're using something our people have invented.'' More impressive are the accomplished paintings of Bryant--a newcomer to children's books--which sturdily evoke both the present day and the various eras mentioned. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)
Children's Literature
A father shares his rich African American heritage with his daughter by introducing her to famous and not so famous African Americans who made major contributions to society. He refers to these great African Americans as "our people." At each venture, whether Africans building pyramids or black cowboys conquering the West, the young girl recognizes the strength of her people. After the father tells her Harriett Tubman's story, the daughter pretends to help lead slaves to freedom. The daughter does not only learn about the sacrifices and ingenuity of African Americans but embraces these accomplishments as her own. The father's stories help foster a sense of pride and common focus, which help the young girl to identify with her past in preparation for her future. The bond between father and daughter is illustrated supremely. Michael Bryant's illustrations are historically accurate and his modern day depiction of a young girl's interpretation of her father's stories is inviting and vivid. Any curious child will be satisfied and enticed to learn and become more. This book is a wonderful introduction to African American history and would be a great addition to any school library. 2002, Gingham Dog Press/McGraw-Hill, Ages 4 to 8.
—Gilda R. Daniels
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-A young African-American child listens to her father tell stories about the achievements of ``our people'' in Africa and in the U.S., and then imagines herself doing those same things. The illustrations depict historical events and the girl's parallel activities. First, readers see the pyramids, and the next spread shows the child building with her blocks. Subsequent pages show an African artist at work, the youngster's drawing of her father, Harriet Tubman leading slaves to freedom, the girl pulling her dolls to freedom in a red wagon, African-American cowboys, and her riding on Daddy's back. She goes to sleep dreaming of the great things she will do as an adult, such as exploring outer space. This is a tender book with a message of pride and family togetherness. Also highlighted are the possibilities seen by the protagonist, who believes, with her father's support, that she can do anything. The affection and love between the two is clearly evident in the text and in Bryant's sensitive paintings. The text is simple and repetitive, with a rhythmic cadence that will appeal to young audiences. The illustrations are large and bold, and the text is short and interesting enough for group story times.-Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Siena College Library, Loudonville, NY
Denia Hester
This primer in pride features an African American father and daughter sharing important moments in black history. Daddy tells his child that "our people built the pyramids" and "our people created inventions that are still used today." The young listener's delight is apparent as she visualizes her father's stories and imagines how she could have been a part of such a rich history. Bryant's warm, golden illustrations wrap father, daughter, and the past in a cozy circle in which lessons and laughter reside comfortably together.

Product Details

School Specialty Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 10.60(h) x 0.31(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

With over 70 books in print, Angela Shelf Medearis is an author who combines a great love for children's literature with a particular attention to the reading needs of young African Americans. "I write the kind of books I always longed to find in the library when I was a child", she says. Books were an essential part of Medearis's own early 1960's childhood, giving her a sense of continuity and identity throughout her family's many moves.

Today, she spends as much time encouraging literacy in all students as she does promoting African-American subjects. Medearis founded and directs Book Boosters, a multicultural program for all grade levels that concentrates on reading, creative writing and drama. She currently works as a reading consultant for the McGraw-Hill Reading Program. Mrs. Medearis lives in Austin, Texas.

Michael Bryant is a graduate of Kean University and has illustrated many books for children. Michael currently resides in Northeastern Pennsylvania where he creates fine art including sculpture and mixed media.

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