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How do you tell a challenging story?

Cover of An American Story
A review of An American Story by Kwame Alexander
Dare Coulter

An American Story, illustrated by Dare Coulter and written by Kwame Alexander, is the winner of the 2024 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for outstanding illustrations by an African American artist.

In the author's note, Alexander shares that he wrote this book after realizing that his daughter's teacher had a fear of teaching kids about slavery- she had never been taught how.

This American story opens with the question, "How do you tell a story that starts in Africa and ends in horror?"

As that story is told, history is illustrated by Coulter with incredible mixed-media art and photographs of stunning clay sculptures, interspersed with simple drawings of the present-day. Students and a teacher asking questions, learning together, and interjecting, "that's not fair." Even among this hard, sad story there is joy to be found in the images and words of people showing their strength and kids learning to speak the truth. 

So how DO you tell this story? 

"You do it
by being brave enough
to lift your voice,

by holding
in one hand

and clenching
in the other."

Read more about all the 2024 ALA Youth Media Award Winners here.

Jan 26, 2024