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Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress

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Discover the story of the first black woman elected to Congress and to run for president in this picture book biography.

Meet Shirley, a little girl who asks way too many questions! After spending her early years on her grandparents' farm in Barbados, she returns home to Brooklyn and immediately makes herself known. Shirley kicks butt in school; she breaks her mother's curfew; she plays jazz piano instead of classical. And as a young adult, she fights against the injustice she sees around her, against women and black people. Soon she is running for state assembly...and winning in a landslide. Three years later, she is on the campaign trail again, as the first black woman to run for Congress. Her slogan? Fighting Shirley Chisholm--Unbought and Unbossed! Does she win? You bet she does.

48 pages, Hardcover

First published June 1, 2021

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About the author

Alicia D. Williams

7 books301 followers
What's there to know about Alicia D? Well, that depends on who you ask.

If you ask kindergartners, they'd tell you:

1. She likes chunky guacamole.

2. She likes shiny things.

3. She tells good stories.

If you ask her middle schoolers, they'd surely say:

1. She gets us.

2. She makes us laugh with all her jokes.

3. She is Da BOMB.

While all of these may be true, there are a few more points to add . . . Alicia D. is a teacher in Charlotte, NC. She is the proud mother of a brilliant college student. Her love for education stems from conducting school residencies as a Master Teaching Artist of arts-integration. Alicia D infuses her love for drama, movement, and storytelling to inspire students to write. And like other great storytellers, she made the leap into writing--and well, her story continues. Alicia D loves laughing, traveling, and Wonder Woman.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 42 reviews
5,870 reviews130 followers
September 19, 2021
Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress is a children's picture book written by Alicia D. Williams and illustrated by April Harrison. Shirley St. Hill was all the things a proper little girl was not: spirited, opinionated, and determined to get her way.

Shirley Anita Chisholm (née St. Hill) was an American politician, educator, and author. In 1968, she became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress, representing New York's 12th congressional district, a district centered on Bedford-Stuyvesant, for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In the 1972 United States presidential election, she became the first African-American candidate to run for a major party's nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Williams' text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and informative. Employing an italicized refrain of others' judgments throughout Chisholm's life, Williams relays the various challenges and achievements Chisholm faced at each stage of her life. Backmatter includes an author's note. Acrylic and mixed media collage art by Harrison has a multilayered, folk art sensibility, featuring textures, angles, and expressive figures of differing skin tones.

The premise of the book is rather straightforward. It profiles Shirley Chisholm, presenting her Brooklyn beginnings, her six years growing up in Barbados, and her subsequent education and fight to join the New York State Assembly and then Congress.

All in all, Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress is a timely and inspiring biography of a great woman who broke barriers and used her voice to elevate those around her.
Profile Image for Sandy Brehl.
Author 8 books131 followers
October 19, 2021
Shirley Chisholm has been finding her way into picture book biographies of late, and that is long overdue for this groundbreaking, memorable, game-changing political pioneer. This, to me, is an ideal approach to engaging young readers in Chisholm's remarkable personal story that led to those accomplishments.
With direct address to the readers, reaching out to "introduce" Shirley at various stages of her life, the author hooks audiences of any age with Chisholm's energetic, determined, troublemaking, forward-looking, can-do nature in her earliest years. The details of that stage of life allow enough empathetic connection to carry young readers along her journey as an adult, even into spaces and circumstances that will be unfamiliar to the average child. This could be the ticket to inspiring contemporary kids to make a difference, to be somebody, to reach beyond arbitrary boundaries, as Shirley did throughout her life.
Profile Image for Tina Hoggatt.
947 reviews4 followers
August 21, 2021
How I loved Shirley Chisholm growing up. She was all the things called out in this well observed biography:Daring, rebellious, persistent, and a troublemaker. It was good to learn about her childhood, love for learning, and brilliance, and to revisit her many achievements. These illustrations grew on me. Kudos to April Harrison - got to love those white shoes!
November 15, 2022
This picture book won the Jane Addams Award. It is a great book that tells the story of Shirley but also shares the motives of fighting for what you want and believe in. Shirley is a strong, young individual that excelled in school at such a young age. She managed to stay strong to her word and eventually became the first black woman in congress. “That woman is persistent!” She knew what she wanted and held strong to her word. Shirley is “Daring! Rebellious! Persistent! Troublemaker!” It is a great biography that can be enjoyed by children and adults.

I have not always been a fan of this type of illustrations, however, it fits with the story. The illustrations capture every individuals emotion on each page. Shirley Chisholm is a strong individual that makes a mark in our history. This would be a great book to read in a social studies class to educate children on more than the primary historical figures. I still believe it is important to learn about the traditional historical figures, but it is also important to learn about more and newer figures. At the end of the book there is the author’s note that provides more information about Shirley Chisholm.

I learned a lot from reading this book and hope you do too!
16 reviews
November 8, 2022
Read all about it! This Jane Addams award-winning book is a wonderfully written biography of Shirley Chisholm, the first-ever African American woman to be elected into congress. Shirley is confident and daring as she never lets others get the best of her. Read the back matter to find out more!
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.2k reviews277 followers
October 13, 2021
This biography about Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress is inspiring and accessible as it describes its subject's formative years and her move from Brooklyn to Barbados to live with her grandparents and back to Brooklyn again and her growing interest in politics. Many young readers today will easily relate to the young Shirley who couldn't sit still and persistently asked questions. The narrative is broken up by observations about Shirley that describe her character so that readers feel as though they know her: "That girl is daring!" (unpaged), "That young lady is rebellious!" (unpaged), "That woman is persistent!" (unpaged), "That woman is too persistent!" (unpaged), "That Shirley is a troublemaker!" (unpaged). The author returns to these descriptive words at the end of the book when she sums up Shirley. She's each of these and more. All of these remarks show how determined Shirley was but also how others regarded her, the latter remarks typically of those disparaging observations made about women who stand up and speak up for their rights or challenge the status quo. Once she realized that politicians were adept at making promises they never planned to keep, she had no choice but to get involved and run for office herself. The illustrations, created with acrylic and mixed media collage brim with color and somehow capture the essence of this exuberant, life-loving child and adult who didn't always follow the rules and spoke out for the underdog and those who had been marginalized even when others stayed silent or questioned whether she belonged. An Author's Note delves more deeply into Chisholm's career. While reading this picture book, I felt the same way I did about Barbara Jordan when I read Chris Barton's (2018) What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? Perhaps now more than ever we need elected officials who aren't afraid to speak out and hold others accountable. Maybe some young girl or boy will read this biography and follow in Shirley's footsteps.
Profile Image for Maura.
635 reviews9 followers
August 11, 2021
My 8 year old son and I really enjoyed this biography of Shirley Chisholm. This is our 4th new picture book biography that we've read about her. If we hadn't read more before this one, it might have been a bit incomplete-feeling, but already knowing a bit about her story, it was an enjoyable and fresh look at her.

The cover illustration is lovely, but both my son and I interrupted our reading several times to remark upon the odd illustrations. Some illustrations, such as the very back full page portrait of Chisholm holding up a peace sign, are realistic and true to life. Some, like a collage of articles about her, are visually engaging. Others are strangely distorted, with people whose heads are bent at strange angles. I know it's an artistic decision that is interesting, but in our case the surprising illustrations often distracted from our enjoyment of the book and focus on the idea of Shirley Chisholm's life.

Overall, a recommended family read and addition to elementary libraries.
Profile Image for Rachel.
872 reviews11 followers
May 21, 2022
Shirley Chisholm is an important figure in US history and this is the most beautiful and engaging work to-date available for young children. Williams’ focuses on Chisholm’s early childhood through her election to Congress, including a note about her later years. She focuses on keywords throughout the narrative: daring, rebellious, persistent, troublemaker. Each of these are qualities Chisholm displays, or the perception others held of her, as she pursued her goals with advice from her father to “make something of yourself.” Harrison’s artwork is bold, using mixed media incorporating paper cut-outs that mirror artifacts from Chisholm’s time, such as newspaper headlines and political propaganda. Geometric designs with richly detailed patterns in a matte finish, the illustrations capture Chisholm’s fierce determination. Inspirational and relatable, children are likely to recognize something of themselves within Shirley. Highly recommended with an appeal from elementary to middle school.
Profile Image for Diane.
6,998 reviews
September 11, 2021
“In her community, politicians keep making promises. Yet nothing changes.”

Her father told her when she was young to “Make something of yourself.” Shirley was daring, rebellious, persistent, and a troublemaker who kept asking questions and expecting her representatives to do something about the problems in her community. When they didn’t, she started working to make change herself: first as a New York State Assemblywoman and then a member of Congress. Her campaign slogan for her 1968 Congress run was Unbought and Unbossed - you have to love that!

A very good introductory text on the life of Shirley Chisholm, but also a great example of SEL topics such as civic engagement and ethical responsibility.

Profile Image for Matthew.
2,788 reviews45 followers
July 30, 2022
Shirley Chisholm's story is seemingly one of endless perseverance and being regularly underestimated. She was a really cool person and this book does a great job of emphasizing the spirit that pervaded her every action. It also does a good job of capturing her importance to all that followed her. This is one of those books that should be on shelves all across the country. It just does the job it should do in so many ways. One thing I would note is that the illustration style seems a little inconsistent at times, like the illustrator, April Harrison, was switching back and forth stylistically throughout, but that may have been intended. I can't really tell. Either way, it did turn out beautifully.
Profile Image for Carly Houser.
20 reviews
November 30, 2022
I liked this book because it was inspiring and interesting. It was nice to learn about a persevering and persistent little girl who became successful in a time where segregation was still happening. Most students don’t prefer nonfiction, but this is a type of nonfiction book that has colorful illustrations and an easy, clear sequence to get students engaged. She joined the Seventeenth Assembly District Democratic Club, had a job at a child care center, and won the election in the New York State Assembly, which was always made up of white men. Shirley made something of herself and persevered.
Profile Image for Reshamad.
282 reviews10 followers
October 30, 2021
Review is part of Cybils Awards

A motivating and inspirational non fiction picture biography of the first black woman elected to Congress. Shirley's life and her journey to running for the president of United States is recreated in this easy to read and beautifully illustrated picture book. Highly recommend reading!

Profile Image for Stephanie A-M.
174 reviews4 followers
January 21, 2022
Biographies written for children are an absolute delight. Shirley Chisholm was a force "unbought and unbossed". This book shares her life in such a way that the reader understands that her will and determination were inherent and as her father spoke over her she was destined to "make something of herself". Rich illustrations, an inspiring story of persistence this is a great introduction to the life of an amazing Black woman.
Profile Image for Zandra.
166 reviews1 follower
February 8, 2022
For those reading about Shirley for the first time, this book will leave you in awe. Not only was Shirley Chisholm an inspiration, this book illustrates how she was daring rebellious persistent, a troublemaker (in a good way), bossy, gutsy, a fighter, and brave. I really enjoyed reading this book and think you will too.
The illustrations were an added bonus as well as the short biography in the end.

Profile Image for Beverly.
3,295 reviews20 followers
October 5, 2021
Possible contender for the Mock Caldecott Awards in January 2022. An interesting book about the life o Shirley Chisholm. This is someone I've certainly been aware of but knew nothing of her history. I'm always impressed by curious children who are encouraged by their parents (or someone important to them) to question, challenge and do their best.
Profile Image for Cheriee Weichel.
2,472 reviews35 followers
April 3, 2022
I had heard of Shirley Chisholm, but after Katherine Johnson, in her autobiography, talked about her, I determined it was time to learn more.
Shirley Chisholm was a truly remarkable woman who worked hard for her immediate community and all people, no matter whether she was working as a teacher's aid or an elected representative. We need more politicians like her.
Profile Image for Nicole Daley.
38 reviews15 followers
July 13, 2021
Although brief, this picture book biography was very informative and inspirational. I didn't know much about Shirley Chisholm's story, but after reading this book, I'm looking forward to learning more about her life.
Profile Image for Amy.
2,731 reviews23 followers
October 21, 2021
This was an amazing picture book about Shirley Chisholm's life and accomplishments. Not only did I love learning about this remarkable woman's story, but the illustrations are amazing! Inspiring story and art.
Profile Image for Kris Dersch.
2,347 reviews15 followers
March 2, 2022
She's probably best known today for her presidential run, but I like that this is a story of the early part of her life and her journey to Congress. I love April Harrison and the illustrations are great. Really well told and well executed.
Profile Image for Darlena Glenn.
390 reviews
November 21, 2022
The illustrations are captivating! I'm not sure if I like the text written in the negative, but I guess for someone who hears a lot of negative criticism perhaps it will forge them forward in ignoring it in pursuit of their goals.
July 2, 2021
Very informative I've never heard of Shirley Chisholm. I'm definitely going to invest time into learning more about her.
3,794 reviews20 followers
July 9, 2021
Well done picture book biography!
Profile Image for Peacegal.
10.2k reviews94 followers
July 22, 2021
Shirley Chisholm lived quite a life! Other than having some basic awareness of her as a Congressperson, I knew very little about her. I learned something and so will you.
Profile Image for Linda Atkinson.
2,095 reviews14 followers
September 4, 2021
A role model and hero who I remember running for President. Listed on Mock Caldecott 2022
Displaying 1 - 30 of 42 reviews

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