Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “These Hands” as Want to Read:
These Hands
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

These Hands

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  362 ratings  ·  100 reviews
Joseph’s grandpa could do almost anything with his hands. He could play the piano, throw a curveball, and tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat. But in the 1950s and 60s, he could not bake bread at the Wonder Bread factory. Factory bosses said white people would not want to eat bread touched by the hands of the African Americans who worked there. In this powerful ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 7th 2011 by HMH Books for Young Readers
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about These Hands, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about These Hands

Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnellI Want My Hat Back by Jon KlassenGrandpa Green by Lane SmithPerfect Square by Michael  HallBlackout by John Rocco
2012 Mock Caldecott
19th out of 84 books — 179 voters
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack KeatsThe Rough-Face Girl by Rafe MartinMufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John SteptoeWhistle for Willie by Ezra Jack KeatsRuth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey
Multicultural Children's Lit
265th out of 324 books — 48 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 618)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Cole Hoffman
These Hands is written from the perspective of a Grandfather talking to his Grandson. The Grandfather lists several things that his hands had done over the years, such as play piano, shuffle cards, and take an active part in the Civil Rights movement. The point that the Grandfather is trying to teach his Grandson is that if his hands did so much, then there is no limit to what his Grandson's hands can do.

I love the constant metaphor throughout the book of, these hands changed history. It is a gr
Sofia Davis
These Hands by Margaret H. Mason & illustrated by Floyd Cooper. is about a young African American boy named Joseph who has a grandpa who can do just about anything with his own two hands. He can play the piano, throw curveballs, and even tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds. Although since it is the 1950s and 60s, Joseph’s grandfather wasn't allowed to bake bread in the Wonder Bread Factory since the boss said white people wouldn’t buy or eat bread cooked and touched by the hands of an ...more
These Hands by Margaret H. Mason, illustrated by Floyd Cooper gently introduces discrimination and the Civil Rights Movement as Joseph learns, from his grandfather, that people joined their hands together to fight discrimination so that one day, their hands, and Joseph’s hands, could do anything at all in this whole wide world.

Joseph’s Grandpa could do almost anything with his hands: play the piano, throw a curveball, and tie a triple bowline knot fast. But in the 1950s and 60s, he could not ba
Margo Tanenbaum
Don't miss this moving new picture book that combines a little-known piece of labor history and the civil rights movement with a tender portrait of a grandfather's close relationship with his grandson. Author Margaret Mason explains in an author's note that during the 1950s and early 1960s, African American workers at Wonder Bread and other bakery factories were allowed to sweep the floors, load the trucks, and fix the machines--but they were not allowed to work as bread dough mixers or bread do ...more
CH13_Lisa Matthews
These Hands is a story about an African American grandfather telling his grandson about all the things his hands could do except for one thing, which was mixing and making bread dough in the Wonder Bread Factory during the 1950’s. In this powerful intergenerational story, Joseph learns from his grandfather that people joined their hands together to fight discrimination so that one day, Joseph’s hands and the hands of other just like him could do anything their heart desire.

These Hands has severa
Joseph's grandpa could do almost anything with his hands, like playing the piano, throwing a curve ball, and tie a bow in "three seconds flat." But once there were things those same hands could not do.

In this quietly powerful picture book, the discrimination African Americans felt before the passing of the Civil Rights Act when trying to work is respectfully portrayed through the oral history of one grandfather to his grandson. Based on a true experience, this is a subtle way to introduce the f
Gabrielle Blockton
Date: September 30th, 2014

Author: Margaret H. Mason; Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Title: These Hands

Plot: Margaret H. Mason's powerful picture story-book tells the story of a Grandfather and Grandson spending time with each other playing the piano, playing ball and tying shoes. The book also tells the story of African-American workers not allowed to work with bread-dough at the Wonder Bread Company.

Setting: No setting is addressed

Characters: Grandfather and Grandson

Point-of-View: First-Person

Tonya Nelson
Summary: This historical realistic fiction picture book tells a wonderful story about overcoming discrimination as Joseph learns about his grandfather’s past during the Civil Rights Movement. Joseph’s grandfather tells about all of the things he can do with his hands: play the piano, throw curve balls, and tie a triple bowline. However, in the past, he was not able to work in a factory to make bread because of racial discrimination. This book talks about how African Americans joined their hands ...more
This book is about an African American boy named Joseph and his grandfather. Joseph’s grandfather explains how he could do
so many things with his hands, except a few things because of his skin color. He tells Joseph about the things he could not do and shows Joseph how to do everything he can do to show him how they have overcome racial discrimination. The story ends by the grandfather telling Joseph he can do anything with his hands.

The genre of this book is culture. The format is a picture boo
Samantha Simmons
An African-American man talks to his grandson about what his hands used to do. He tells him how these hands were able to tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds and many other things than show his grandson how to do the same things. The grandfather then tells his grandson that these hands were not allowed to mix dough in the bread factory but were only allowed to sweep floors and load trucks because white people did not want them toughing their bread. That all changed though when many hands j ...more
I really love the gentleness in this book--such a terrific introduction to Civil Rights and a large, hard section of our American history in a way that very young children can begin to appreciate. Cooper's illustrations are outstanding, as usual.
These Hands is lovely. In just a few words per page, a warm, loving relationship between a grandfather and grandson is developed...reminding me so much of my own dear deceased grandpa. And in addition, these few lines gently tell a story of the inequality that existed in the 50's and 60's in the Wonder Bread factories (and, of course, many other places as well.). All by explaining what the grandfather's hands could and couldn't do. Beautifully written! The illustrations remind me of sepia colore ...more
Liked the story - good pics - great lessons - not sure kids will check it out
His hands can teach card tricks, tie shoes, play a piano and do card tricks. This story is about Joesph's grandpa and his employment years at the dough factory. People of his "type" were not allowed to touch bread dough in the factory. They wrote petitions and held demonstrations until they won the rights. The story ends with a great list of skills that Joesph can now do because of the lessons learned. I think this would be a great book for any middle school or public library although it does no ...more
Joseph’s grandfather’s hands can still do so many amazing things. He used to be able to tie knots very quickly, now he helps Joseph learn to tie his shoes. He can play the piano. He can show Joseph how to do a waterfall shuffle with cards. He could pitch a curve ball in his youth, now he can teach Joseph to hit a line drive. But there were things his hands couldn’t do when he was younger. His hands were forbidden to touch the bread dough in the Wonder Bread factory. His hands could touch the bro ...more
Marcie Gottlieb
These Hands by Margaret H. Mason, Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Mason, Margaret (2010) These Hands, New York City: Houghton Mifflin
Target Audience: K-3

In this wonderful, simple yet profound book an African American grandfather tells his grandson that despite all the wonderful things he could do with his hands he could not touch the bread dough in the Wonder Bread factory were he worked as a young man. The story is very moving and beautifully illustrated in soft oil wash shades. The story is based
This picture book gently introduces discrimination and the Civil Rights Movement as a grandfather describes the things he used to be able to do with his hands when he was younger as well as the things he can still use them to do today. But he also shares what those capable hands were never allowed to do because of the racial prejudices of his day. By joining hands and marching with others, laws and attitudes were changed. His grandson, on the other hand, is the beneficiary of the actions of thos ...more
Nina G.
A grandfather teaches his grandson, Joseph, what his hands were able to do when he was younger such as playing baseball and the piano. He teaches these things to his grandson. The grandpa then tells his grandson how African American's were not allowed to handle the dough at the bread factory he worked at. His hands were used to get everybody together to write petitions for change and justice to happen. The pictures are beautiful and almost look like actual pictures.

My response: This was an excel
Katie Helwig
Joseph’s grandpa is his hero. There is nothing Grandpa can’t do! He can do anything with his hands he wants, except for using them to make bread at the Wonder bread factory. In this story, Joseph’s grandpa shares the story of how he was able to work at the factory as long as he never touched the product because of the color of his skin. Joseph learns that his grandpa, along with others, fought hard to make sure Joseph and his friends would be able to do anything they wanted with their hands incl ...more
Mackenzie Beals
This is a story about Joseph's grandpa. Joseph's grandpa was able to do so many amazing things with his hands like play piano or throw a curve ball. But there were some things that Joseph's grandpa was not able to do with his hands because of racial discrimination. The text in this book is simple but the content is deep. I really enjoyed the book. The illustrations were created from an oil wash with kneaded erasers.
Tyneisha Thompson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lovely sepia illustrations; I liked how the artist used a slightly higher focus and more details in the hands and faces than in the backgrounds to highlight them. Nice use of the hands imagery and what hands can do, throughout, I appreciate the focus on what can be done and what can be attempted rather than the reverse. I thought the shifts between the three sections of the book were a little abrupt, and wished for either stronger transitions between them, or for the book to set them apart a lit ...more
After reading the books these hands, what i got out of it was more like a history lesson. Joseph grandad explains to him although he is able to do a lot things with hands, because of the color of his skin he couldn't do other things with his hands like mix the bread dough or touch the bread dough. I like how he told Joseph that eventhough he couldnt do certain things with his hands, with those same hands, with other hands just like his he was able to sign petitions,carry signs,and lead peaceful ...more
A grandfather and grandson spend time together. The grandfather uses the experiences that they have together to tell his grandson about "these hands." They used to "tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat," or "throw a curveball faster than a dive-bombing honeybee." Now "these hands" can help a grandson learn to tie his shoes or hit a line drive. He also tells his grandson about the Wonderbread factory and how "these hands" were not allowed to touch the bread dough "because the bosses sa ...more
Once, Grandpa's young hands could throw a mean curve ball, do magic tricks, play the piano, and tie a triple bowline knot. They also signed petitions and carried signs as he fought to end Jim Crow laws that kept him in menial jobs at the bread factory where he swept floors. Though his old hands can no longer perform as well, they can still teach his grandson Joseph skills, and because of the Civil Rights struggle, now Joseph can work bread dough in the factory or do "anything at all in this whol ...more
a good introduction to segregation,told thru one incident in American history. well told in a very quiet manner about the Grandfather not being able to make great at Wonder Bread.
illustrations are excellent, with a strong focus on the hands doing various actions.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Joseph’s grandpa tells the young grandson all the things his hands used to be able to do when he was younger, including tying shoes and playing the piano and shuffling cards and throwing a baseball. Then the grandpa shares with Joseph the story of how black hands were not allowed to handle bread dough in the bread factory when the grandpa was a young man. Grandpa tells how the hands were used to write petitions and work together to change things for black people.

Beautiful, touching pictures, alm
A beautiful and simple story about segregation. Joseph's grandfather tells him all the things that he used to do and can still do with his hands. Then he tells about working in the Wonder Bread factory but not being allowed to actually make the bread.

This is a fantastic introduction to segregation for young students. The story is clearly and well-told and describes segregation simply but honestly. I recommend this book as a read aloud for K - 1. Older students may also enjoy the selection but w
Adam Breitkreutz

Joseph's grandfather is very talented with his hands. From tying his shoes, to playing the piano, to hitting a baseball he passes these skills off to his grandson. He also teaches him the most important skill of all, standing up for what you believe in, and fighting discrimination.


This is a wonderful story based on true events set int the 50s, and 60s. I'd use this book for any young patron wanting to learn about the discrimination that went on during those times, and for any new
Jan 12, 2015 Sue rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: cyrm
CYRM nominee introduces the idea of Civil rights and how things have changed since the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964. African Americans were not allowed to mix the bread dough in the 1960s.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 21 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Migrant
  • A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis
  • The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred
  • Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom
  • Never Forgotten
  • A Storm Called Katrina
  • Back of the Bus
  • The Great Migration: Journey to the North
  • Boundless Grace
  • Tia Isa Wants a Car
  • Ruth and the Green Book
  • A New Year's Reunion: A Chinese Story
  • Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle
  • Letting Swift River Go
  • Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington
  • I Had a Favorite Dress
  • Blackout
  • Over and Under the Snow
Inside All

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »