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Sing a Song: How "Lift Every Voice and Sing" Inspired Generations

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  215 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Just in time for the 120th anniversary of the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing"--this stirring book celebrates the Black National Anthem and how it inspired five generations of a family.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us.
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.

In 1900, in Jacksonville, Florida, two brothers, one of them t
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published August 6th 2019 by Nancy Paulsen Books
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Average rating 4.40  · 
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 ·  215 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Start your review of Sing a Song: How "Lift Every Voice and Sing" Inspired Generations
Great illustrations!!!
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Who Love the Song, or Are Looking for Children's Books About the African-American Experience
Author Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrator Keith Mallett join forces in this beautiful picture-book tribute to that classic song, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," originally written and composed by African-American brothers James Weldon Johnson and R. Rosamond Johnson as a hymn for Abraham Lincoln's birthday. First performed on February 12, 1900, by a choir of five hundred African-American students - pupils at James Weldon Johnson's all-black Stanton School in Jacksonville, Florida - the song would ...more
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I hope the final book includes the complete lyrics for “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” so families and classes can learn and sing them together.
Mary Lee
"Lift Every Voice and Sing" is traced from its writing to the present day through generations of African American families, and important periods in American history. ...more
Stephanie Bange
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Inspired by this song often referred to as a "Black National Anthem", Starling Lyons infuses her family's history to create this story of a rich heritage.

This is a story of passing this particular song, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" orally through five generations to today.

Beginning with the text on the front and back endsheets, this is one beautiful package! There is a musical quality to the poetic text that makes this a joy to read aloud. Keith Mallett's freehand illustrations were digitally pai
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Sing a Song : How "Lift Every Voice and Sing" Inspired Generations by Kelly Starling Lyons illustrated by Keith Mallett PICTURE BOOK Nancy Paulsen Books Penguin, 2019. $18. 9780525516095



The story of the Black National Anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing" told in the effect it had on one particular family, from 1900 to the present day.

I loved so many things about this book. Keith Mallett's beautiful illustrations, the end papers wi
It's rare that a picture book gives me goosebumps, but this one did.
Surely this will receive some Coretta Scott King award love?!?

I didn't know the history behind "Lift Every Voice and Sing," but I loved how its history is told through the eyes of one African-American family who started singing it in Florida and how each generation learned the song and sang it at important events and times of American history, ending at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Craig Wiesner
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Known as the Black National Anthem, this song was written as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln and sung by a 500 child choir in 1900. For generations it has been a source of inspiration, hope, and courage not just for African-Americans, but for all people, keeping the faith despite the difficult past and holding onto hope for our present and future. This beautiful picture book takes us all on the journey from the song's creation through the day when the National Museum of African American History was ...more
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Sing when you score a victory. Sing when tough times get you down. Sing and think of all the people who sang before you, who carried on and pushed forward even when everything was against them.”

The song Lift Every Voice and Sing has been passed down from generation to generation because of its importance to the Black community. It was written by James Weldon Johnson (a principal of a segregated school) and his brother J. Rosamond Johnson to celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. First sung on Fe
The only thing missing from the book is a page at the back before the author's note with the entire song on a page. Yes, the song is written in italics into the story itself-- woven in-- but I want to see the entire song on the page.

Knowing a bit about the song only because each year at our opening Convocation celebration in my school district, this song is sung, it was a lovely story that shows how integral the song was to each generation for various reasons-- whether it be inspiring, upliftin
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The story of the Black National Anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing" told in the effect it had on one particular family, from 1900 to the present day.

I loved so many things about this book. Keith Mallett's beautiful illustrations, the end papers with the song lyrics (all the verses) the author's note - - but most of all I so loved the family connections - the love of the song passed from parent to child, sung at family reunions and holding a special place in their hearts. I quickly found a record
Age: K-2nd
Identity, illustrator & author: African American
Music: Song

First performed in 1900, "Lift Every Voice and Sing" is carried across generations in this moving portrayal of one song's inspirational influence in the African American community. Lyons ability to weave together so many stories in one cohesive unit is truly exemplary. Furthermore, to end on the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture is such a beautiful way to show the continuation of this profou
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is part of my education this summer. I didn't know of this song prior to reading the book, and now today, on Juneteenth, it is part of the Google doodle. I am enlightened and informed. This book will be a read-a-loud this year in my classroom to inform others of the Black National Anthem. "Lift Every Voice and Sing" was first sung on February 12, 1900 to commemorate Lincoln's birthday. It has been handed down generation to generation. Today in 2020, it has more power than ever. This bo ...more
Through the years, joyful, exuberant, strengthening, blessing - this book is a vibrant Black National Anthem tribute. Author Kelly Lyons retells the song's impact as it is passed from generation to generation. As the story is brought to a close in a child's experience at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the author speaks to readers, encouraging them to "Keep on keeping on" and to pass on this legacy.
The history behind the hymn written by two brothers, James Weldon Johnson, and John Rosamond Johnson for the celebration of Abraham Lincoln's birthday, and how it went on to become known over the years as the Black National Anthem. The song has become a symbol of faith, brilliance, resistance, and resilience by the many generations that has sung it, and hope for the future generations who will continue to sing it. ...more
Sharon Lawler
I heard this song for the first time at the annual Correta Scott King breakfast held during the 2015 ALA conference. Everyone knew the lyrics, and for those who didn't, they were included in the program. The strength and unity of the voices was amazing! I am thrilled to have the opportunity to learn the history and importance of this song. this belongs in every library, and if possible, every home. ...more
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An amazing story of the song that was adopted as the Black National Anthem. I first heard it sung by Beyoncé but I loved hearing the history behind it. The illustrations were AMAZING! I also liked the mention of The National Museum of the African American which I’d love to visit. Definitely a great companion when studying American symbols and culture, and the national anthem.
Katie Merkel
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has beautiful illustrations and easy to understand, emotion evoking prose that ties each generation together through the song. It's an age appropriate way to introduce this part of history to young children. I would recommend this book for children between the ages of four and seven. ...more
Kathy Iwanicki
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Beautiful story that shows the power of song to inspire a generation. A must read aloud.
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks
Absolutely beautiful book! Brought tears to my eyes.
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a beautiful book this is. I loved the evocative illustrations, and I learned a history I was unfamiliar with.
Jordan Sigler
Nov 30, 2020 rated it liked it
This historical book is celebrating the Black National anthem and how it inspired five generations of a family! “In 1900, in Jacksonville, Florida, two brothers, one of them the principal of a segregated, all-black school, wrote the song "Lift Every Voice and Sing" so his students could sing it for a tribute to Abraham Lincoln's birthday.” This song has been sung in many of history’s important moments like the Civil War to families passing down generation to generation. This book goes through ho ...more
Abby Johnson
A beautiful book about the power of a song, often referred to as the Black national anthem, this book is also about the power of tradition and how culture gets passed down from generation to generation. Rich paintings illustrate generations of an African American family singing the song, passing down their traditions, and finding different occasions (graduations, family reunions, etc.) to give this song more layers of meaning. Perfect for discussing the power of the arts, oral traditions, Americ ...more
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
The story is about African American history of a song in America. The song is about fighting the oppressions of African Americans. The song also is a tribute to the major events during the Civil Rights Movement. Common themes throughout this book are faith and hope. I thought that this was an amazing book that shines some light on Civil rights issues in the United States. I also thought that the pictures were enjoyable to look at. I would say that this book would be well suited for grades betwee ...more
Kendal Pursel
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-lit
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age: K-2nd Grade

I enjoyed reading about how the song was used throughout history to help the characters in the book make it through the hard times they faced. The song symbolizes the overcoming of challenges, freedom, and segregation. While reading the book, it was cool to see how each generation used the song to help them progress through history. There was a positive improvement from the beginning to the end, and I really enjoyed following along.
Edward Sullivan
How "Lift Every Voice and Sing," written in 1900 for a tribute for Abraham Lincoln's birthday, became known as the Negro National Anthem, was adopted by the NAACP as its official song, and inspired millions of African Americans over the past 120 years. ...more
Oct 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommended to Relyn by: The publisher sent it to me because I am on the Missouri Show Me committee.
I really loved this book and the story of the song that inspired generations. I love the circular feel of the story and how Lyons led you from on generation to the next. The illustrations were beautiful.
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Author read the book live during a virtual event. She had a recording of her mom singing the song which was wonderful.

Love the illustrations. They are gorgeous!

The book is interesting and has such a great, uplifting message.
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very beautiful artwork and I love the way this moves through generations. I think some of it would resonate more if I had more personal connection to the song, but that's fine. ...more
The illustrations in this one are really unique and beautiful.
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Kelly Starling Lyons is an award-winning author whose 17 titles for children span easy readers, picture books, chapter books, fiction, nonfiction, and series. For more than a decade, Lyons has been creating inspiring books that center Black heroes, celebrate family, friendship and heritage and show all children the storyteller they hold inside. Her acclaimed titles include Going Down Home with Dad ...more

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