The 1619 Project: Born on the Water

Listening Library. Nov. 2021. 24p. $22. ISBN 9780593459997.
Gr 2-5–Hannah-Jones’s seminal The 1619 Project becomes a 24-minute lyrical gift for youngest readers, rendered with Newbery Honoree Watson. Hannah-Jones voices the affecting verses: gentle through the horror, solemn to encourage empowerment, inviting to share the joy. A Black girl’s school assignment to “trace your roots” leaves her “ashamed” because she “can only count back three generations.” Grandma is her powerful antidote: “Let me tell you where we’re from.” Grandma reveals a story of “a home, a place, a land, a beginning” in the Kingdom of Ndongo where ancestors lived free...until the White Lion arrived in 1619 to steal the people to be whipped, chained, sold, enslaved in the New World. As Hannah-Jones and Watson remind in their authors’ note, “Black Americans have their own proud origin story.”
VERDICT A must-have for every library: pair with the Nikkolas Smith–illustrated printed book for a phenomenal, immersive experience.

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