Post image for FREEDOM OVER ME …. amazing book for everyone by Ashley Bryan


What is the value of one human life? Ashley Bryan, author and illustrator, contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of an individual’s hopes and dreams. In this picture book Ashley Bryan brings to life the people behind slave-related documents of the mid-1800’s. We meet Peggy, one of the eleven slaves recently put up for auction, her selling price was roughly $100 about the same price for a good horse.

Peggy was a self-taught expert herbalist and cook for the estate owners. She worked hard and carefully, knowing that everything she created and made went to the estate owners. She dreamed of her own Naming Day ceremony and her parents calling to her, “Mariama! Mariama!” She continued to dream of being free, of having her own life, creating a family, a home, a career of healing.

Each portrait reflects the role of song, call-and-response, ceremony, spirituality, community, and shared griefs in living a double life—doing what was demanded as slaves while keeping close in their hearts the “precious secret,” the constant yearning for freedom.

“When author/illustrator/artist Ashley Bryan acquired a collection of slave-related documents from the1820s to the 1860s he had in his hands a wealth of untold stories. And when he chose to give these people, swallowed by history, lives and dignity and peace, he did so as only he could. With the light and laughter and beauty that only he could find in the depths of uncommon pain. FREEDOM OVER ME is a work of bravery and sense. A way of dealing with the unimaginable, allowing kids an understanding that there is a brain, heart, and soul behind every body, alive or dead, in human history.”

FREEDOM OVER ME is a poignant, beautiful and engaging book that speaks to all – every age – of the value of every single person.  Ashley Bryan, illustrator, author, creator, now at 93 years old is indeed an American treasure, an amazing man who continues to make this world a better place


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you belong here

January 11, 2017

The stars belong in the deep night sky, and the moon belongs there too, and the winds belong in each place they blow by, and I belong here with you.                        — by M.H. Clark Soothing rhythms calm and reassure young readers in this lyrical picture […]

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TALKING LEAVES by Joseph Bruchac

January 2, 2017

In the mid-1800’s a Cherokee man known as Sequoyah, invented an entire writing system for his people. The Cherokee still to this day use his system. Sequoyah realized the power and importance of keeping one’s tribal language alive. He observed that when a language cannot be written and shared, an alternative language is forced onto […]

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December 25, 2016

Photo by Steve Jurvetson Joy and holiday wishes to you and yours from all the ReaderKidZ! We’ll see you here again in the New Year.

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Two Ways to Say “I Love You”

December 18, 2016

  Two ways to say I love you: I HEART YOU by Meg Fleming, illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright (Beach Lane Books, 2016) A tender ode to all the ways little ones are loved and cherished, sung to and snuggled, adored and embraced. Three-word-lines capture these moments in phrases such as this one, when the mother bird and […]

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Mission: Space

December 15, 2016

  Today, ReaderKidZ welcomes Sue Ganz-Schmitt, author of PLANET KINDERGARTEN: 100 Days in Orbit, illustrated by Shane Prigmore (Chronicle, 2016), a clever book in celebration of all things Kindergarten and all things space! DIANNE: Thanks for visiting ReaderKidZ, Sue! Pairing kindergarten and space is pure genius! As the flap copy for PLANET KINDERGARTEN suggests, the book prepares “bold young explorers […]

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When the World Falls Silent…

December 7, 2016

  I knew that BEFORE MORNING (HMH, 2016), another gorgeous collaboration of author Joyce Sidman, and illustrator Beth Krommes, would be stunning. I’ve been a fan of Joyce’s poetry for years and have used many of her Poetry Ideas with students. Similarly, I discovered Beth’s luminous scratchboard illustrations (years before her Caldecott winning picture book, The House in the Night by Susan Marie […]

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