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Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker

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4.27  ·  Rating details ·  171 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Learn about the civil rights activist Ella Baker in this picture book biography.

“What do you hope to accomplish?” asked Ella Baker’s granddaddy when she was still a child.
Her mother provided the answer: “Lift as you climb.”

Long before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, Ella Baker worked to lift others up by fighting racial injustice and empowering poor Afric
...more
Hardcover
Published June 9th 2020 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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Mary Ann
Fabulous writing, important history, perfect pacing of this inspiring woman’s story. Ella Baker was instrumental in NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Council and SNCC. I especially appreciate the way Powell emphasizes Baker listened to people, working from the ground up to lead. Share this grades 4-10. Will be adding this in my high school library for sure.
Jamila
This picture book biography of Ella Baker is long overdue. Baker's leadership and work as a civil rights educator and organizer have been ignored too long. One of the most valuable parts of this biography is the list and description of all of the organizations that Baker led or supported. I'm excited to share this with young people to get them excited about behind-the-scenes organizing, which is often overlooked when teaching about civil rights and anti-racism organizing. ...more
Abby Johnson
An inspiring story about a civil rights activist, Ella Baker, who was instrumental in recruiting for the NAACP and registering Black voters, but who is little known because she preferred to stay out of the spotlight. In catchy, bouncy free verse, Powell writes about Ella Baker's life and the question she continually asked herself and others: What do you hope to accomplish? Hearing from her mother that everyone should "lift as you climb", Baker worked hard to elevate others as she advocated for h ...more
Kim
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Interesting story - inspirational for many reasons. Ella Baker is a little known figure who worked behind the scenes with more vocal, famous people from the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. Not only was she an advocate for free and equal rights, she believed in free and equal rights for all humans, regardless of sex or skin color.
Baby Bookworm
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: our-reviews
https://thebabybookwormblog.wordpress.com/2020/10/06/lift-as-you-climb-the-story-of-ella-baker-patricia-hruby-powell/

This review was originally written for The Baby Bookworm. Visit us for new picture books reviews daily!

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lift As You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker, written by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, a powerful biography of the passionate civil rights icon.

Growing up in segregation-era North Carolina, Ella Josephine Baker was raised by the words and stories of her grandparents. Her preacher grandfather spoke of freedom, cooperation, and commu
...more
Lisa Yee Swope
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a book tailor-made for storytime. The deliberate phrasing, the poetry of the story, and the repeated query: What do you hope to accomplish? When we ask better questions we get better answers. Don't ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, ask what problems they want to solve. A Civil Rights Movement biography of Ella Baker, with a call to action for the activists of any era.
...more
Ben Truong
Lift as You Climb: The Story of Ella Baker is a children's picture book written by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. It chronicles activist Ella Baker's life for young readers.

Ella Josephine Baker was an African-American civil rights and human rights activist. She was a largely behind-the-scenes organizer whose career spanned more than five decades.

Powell's text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and informative. Powell’s verse biography chronicles the professiona
...more
Kristin Guay
Dec 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The very first thing I loved about this book was the title--what a great message to teach young children. This is the story of civil rights activist Ella Josephine Baker. This book is very comprehensive in that it begins with her early childhood and the lessons she learned from her family at an early age. Lessons about hard work, helping others, the importance of education, and working toward your dreams. As the years pass, she begins her active involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, her work ...more
Christine Turner
Long before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, Ella Baker worked to lift others up by fighting racial injustice and empowering poor African Americans to stand up for their rights. Her dedication and grassroots work in many communities made her a valuable ally for leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and she has been ranked as one of the most influential women in the civil rights movement. In the 1960s she worked to register voters and organize sit-ins, and she became a teacher a ...more
June
Mar 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Black History and Women's History requests
Recommended to June by: Edward Sullivan
Young biography of Ella Baker a behind the scenes civil rights activist and mentor.

"What do you want to accomplish?" quote attributed to her preacher Granddaddy.
"Lift as you climb." attributed to her Mama.

Pushed for the NAACP to be open to all, not just the Negro elite. Pushed for grass roots organization versus the top down model that was preferred by the men and preachers.

Author's Note mentions how she was part of what "Du Bois called the "Talented Tenth" -the highly educated black population
...more
Zan Porter
What do you hope to accomplish?" asked Ella Baker's granddaddy when she was still a child.
Her mother provided the answer: "Lift as you climb."

Long before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, Ella Baker worked to lift others up by fighting racial injustice and empowering poor African Americans to stand up for their rights. Her dedication and grassroots work in many communities made her a valuable ally for leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and she has been ranked as one of the mo
...more
Christy
Learn about the civil rights activist Ella Baker in this picture book biography.

“What do you hope to accomplish?” asked Ella Baker’s granddaddy when she was still a child.
Her mother provided the answer: “Lift as you climb.”

Long before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, Ella Baker worked to lift others up by fighting racial injustice and empowering poor African Americans to stand up for their rights. Her dedication and grassroots work in many communities made her a valuable ally for
...more
Ellon
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book so badly. I love picture books that feature amazing historical features that are not super well known. I did learn some about Ella Baker but overall I didn’t really like this book. I think the writing was very clunky. There were some passes I had to read three times in order to understand what the author was writing about. Way too long of a book for the intended picture book audience and way too much text on each page. I like that the author tried to do the technique w ...more
Bryan Loar
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lift as You Climb is an luminary picture book biography of Ella Baker. Patricia Hruby Powell (Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker) creates a well-rounded look at a civil rights leader who should receive greater recognition. R. Gregory Christie (Freedom in Congo Square) depicts the urgency of the period (and today) with a fluid style and unique compositions. Extensive back matter includes author's note, a glossary of civil rights organizations, timeline, and bibliography. A folded and ...more
Kifflie
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had recently read about Fannie Lou Hamer and Mahalia Jackson, but I knew little to nothing about Ella Baker before opening this book. It's not surprising that she had to fight sexism within the civil rights movement. I love the concept of "lifting as you climb," that social justice work involves bringing other people along with you as you rise. This is a powerful message of grassroots leadership that we still need today. R. Gregory Christie, as always, comes through with spot-on illustrations. ...more
Jarm Boccio
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Well-told story of Ella Baker, a non-violent activist, colleague and advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr., and advocate for Black voting rights. Her motto, “Lift as You Climb,” mirrored Ella’s desire to lift the poor and disadvantaged, giving them a voice. A fascinating portrait of a woman who, influenced by her faith, worked for equality in a non-confrontative and prudent manner, bringing about change and fostering respect in the black population. Simple enough for elementary school children to u ...more
Kim
Ella Baker was in the NAACP, the Leader of the SCLC and SNCC yet is not a household name. While many civil rights organizations focused on the middle class and elite blacks to lift up the race, Ms. Baker focused on listening to the poorest blacks. Instead of just listening to the preachers, she listened to the congregants. She focused on getting ALL Blacks registered to vote. I want to know more about Ms. Baker!!
Erin
The repeated refrains of “life as you climb” and “what do you hope to accomplish?” reveal the intense focus and passion of Ella Josephine Baker. She didn’t just fight for “her” rights, she fought to lift everyone. And she fought with thoughtful purpose. Powell has a beautifully poetic voice that she brings to her biographies: they are a delight to read.
Maria
Ella Baker worked as an activist and human rights advocate. As a community organizer she asked, "What do you hope to accomplish?" and taught people to "lift as you climb."

Why I started this book: Awesome title on our Black History month display.

Why I finished it: Inspiring and a timely reminder to ask the deep questions when seeking change.
...more
alisonwonderland (Alison)
Another read for my picture book biographies of women project, this one is a solid look at a woman who worked primarily behind the scenes but was nonetheless an influential presence in the Civil Rights Movement.

“What do you hope to accomplish?” her granddaddy asked. “Lift as you climb,” her mama taught her.
Amy
I really appreciated this introduction to the life and work of Ella Baker and loved the prevailing message in the book about working with intentionality and vision. I think it is definitely for a slightly older audience (older elementary/middle school).
Kate
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Children's book about Ella Baker. This has colorful pages with dynamic illustrations, a recurring refrain of "What do you hope to accompish?" and a straightforward retelling of the story of Ella Baker who was a huge influence on the civil rights movement. ...more
Jo Oehrlein
Jan 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
What a great personal motto/principle -- "Lift as you climb".

This is the story of Miss Ella Baker who worked tirelessly in the background for civil rights. She focused on listening to each community and what they wanted and then helped them organize to achieve their goal.
...more
Edward Sullivan
An outstanding picture biography introducing young readers to the ex6traordinary life and work of the civil rights educator and organizer. Powell's informative verse text and beautifully complemented with Greg Christie's emotionally visceral illustrations. ...more
Eileen Winfrey
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
I had never heard of Ella Baker (why that is is partly addressed in the book); a major contributor, advocate, and leader during the civil rights movement. The reality of the injustice she fights is infuriating; her steadfastness and resolve throughout it all is inspiring.
Melissa
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The illustrations are amazing.
N
Great to use with all ages. I would use this one with middle and high school in a unit on the Civil Rights Era.
Shanique Edwards
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: yr-2020
This one has more words and pages than the typical children's book, but it tells such an important story of a civil rights icon. ...more
Shoshanna
Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is beautiful and inspirational!
Jason
I just recently learned about this amazing woman! Why isn't she more familiar? She should be up there with MLK and Rosa and all them! Especially with a positive message like that... ...more
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Patricia Hruby Powell is the author of Josephine: the Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker (Chronicle 2014), illustrated by Christian Robinson, (Sibert, CSK, Boston Globe Horn Book, Ragazzi International Honoree; Parent's Choice Gold, etc.) and Loving vs. Virginia (Chronicle 2017) illustrated by Shadra Strickland; Struttin' With Some Barbecue: Lil Hardin Armstrong Becomes the First Lady of Jazz (Charl ...more

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