Dvořák in America: In Search of the New World

By Joseph Horowitz

Juvenile Nonfiction: suitable for elementary and junior high students. What should the music of America sound like? At the end of the nineteenth century, no one was sure: should we imitate Europe, or find our own voice? But what would that be? When the great Czech composer Antonin Dvořák came here, he found the answer in the "sorrow songs" of his African-American student, Henry Burleigh, in the rhythms of the Indian drums, in the church tunes of Spillville, Iowa. Author, critic, and music-educator Joe Horowitz vividly captures the America Dvořák visited, and the brilliant New World Symphony he created. Through the story of one classical composition, Horowitz reveals the many ways in which all Americans have shaped our culture.

Hope’s Gift

By Kelly Starling Lyons

Grades 1-3. A poignant story celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s 1862 and the Civil War has turned out to be a long, deadly conflict. Hope’s father can’t stand the waiting a minute longer and decides to join the Union army to fight for freedom. He slips away one tearful night, leaving Hope, who knows she may never see her father again, with only a conch shell for comfort. Its sound, Papa says, echoes the promised song of freedom. It’s a long wait for freedom and on the nights when the cannons roar, Papa seems farther away than ever. But then Lincoln finally does it: on January 1, 1863, he issues the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves, and a joyful Hope finally spies the outline of a familiar man standing on the horizon.

I, Too, Am America

By Langston Hughes

Preschool-Grade 3. Winner of the Coretta Scott King illustrator award, I, Too, Am America blends the poetic wisdom of Langston Hughes with visionary illustrations from Bryan Collier in this inspirational picture book that carries the promise of equality.

Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes

By Langston Hughes

Grades 3-6. Showcasing the extraordinary Langston Hughes, this book is edited by two leading poetry experts and features gallery-quality art by Benny Andrews that adds rich dimension to the words. Hughes's magnificent, powerful words still resonate today, and the anthologized poems in this splendid volume include his best-loved works: “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”; “My People”; “Words Like Freedom”; “Harlem”; and “I, Too”--his sharp, pointed response to Walt Whitman's “I Hear America Singing.”

When Marian Sang

By Pam Muñoz Ryan

Grades 2-5. Marian Anderson is best known for her historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, which drew an integrated crowd of 75,000 people in pre-Civil Rights America. While this momentous event showcased the uniqueness of her voice, the strength of her character, and the struggles of the times in which she lived, it is only part of her story. Like the operatic arias Marian would come to sing, Ryan's text is as moving as a libretto, and Selznick's pictures as exquisitely detailed and elaborately designed as a stage set. What emerges most profoundly from their shared vision is a role model of courage.