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These Hands

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  768 ratings  ·  193 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
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4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  768 ratings  ·  193 reviews

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Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
4 Stars

I stumbled across this fabulous picture book the other day at school and promptly read it to my class. It precipitated a fantastic class discussion concerning discrimination and civil rights; a discussion that really engrossed the children’s attention and gave them something to think about.

The story follows young Joseph, as his grandfather teaches him how to do many different things with his hands – from shuffling cards to playing a piano, to swinging a baseball bat or tying a triple bow
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Told in the African American Griot fashion, These hands explores the topics of social equality and family traditions. A grand father passes along the skills he's learned to do along with the history of the struggle to be allowed to do more with his hands. Floyd Cooper's illustrations are lovingly rendered chalk drawing that highlights the beauty in shade and shadow. Definitely a book that helps address inequality in a way that younger children can understand it. A real strength of the book is i ...more
Apr 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: class-4b
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
Mackenzie Beals
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ed-689
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.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A grandfather lovingly shares moments from his life with his grandson. Memories of playing the piano, doing card tricks, and throwing baseballs at top speed are interspersed with pre-Civil Rights Act workplace discrimination. The historical element of These Hands is based on policies from the Detroit Wonderbread factory during the 1950s and ‘60s, which prohibited African-American workers from handling bread or using machinery involved in food preparation. To combat the unfair practices, the gran ...more
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
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 b
Cleo White
Nov 30, 2015 added it
Shelves: wow-books
“Look at these hands, Joseph. Did you know these hands used to make the ivories sing like a sparrow in springtime? Well, I can still show a young fellow how to play “Heart and Soul”—yes, I can.”

In this story Joseph spends a lot of time with his Grandfather. Grandfather teaches Joseph different things like playing the piano and making bread. But, even with all the things that Grandfathers hands could do, he tells Joseph that there was a time during the Civil Rights movement that his hands could n
Sofia Davis
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literacy-class
"These Hands" by Margaret H. Mason is appropriate for all ages, Kindergarten through adulthood. It is a gentle introduction to civil rights explained through the life story of a grandpa. Throughout the book Joseph's grandpa is telling his life story in a sing song way by helping Joseph learn skills such as tying a shoe, playing the piano, and lastly making bread "Look at these hands, Joseph. Did you know these hands used to make the ivories sing like a sparrow in the springtime?" In the middle o ...more
Cole Hoffman
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Nov 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: old-age
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
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
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Liked the story - good pics - great lessons - not sure kids will check it out
Kris Dersch
I really liked this one! Surprised by its unexpected depth.
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
Apr 23, 2015 added it
Shelves: multicultural
1. Text to text connection: The part of this book that explains what people did to make their voices heard reminds me of the book We March by Shane W. Evans. Both of these books show, in simple words and pictures, what those who were fighting for civil rights did. It shows how they made signs, gave speeches and worked together to help to get their point across. Both of these books give a young audience the chance to see what it was like to be an African American during the civil rights movement. ...more
Nina G.
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Eliza Buell
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"These Hands" by Margaret Mason is a story about a African American grandfather and his grandson. The story begins by the grandfather telling his grandson what his hands used to be able to do, such as throw a curve ball and play the piano. The grandfather then begins to tell his grandson about what his hands couldn't do growing up because of the color of his skin, such as touch the bread in the bakery. Then, he explains to his grandson that his hands joined together with other hands for change
Gabrielle Blockton
Sep 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
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

May 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
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
Sarah Rusk
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hf
These Hands by Margaret Mason won the Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text, and for good reason! I found this book on the Charlotte Zolotow Award Highly Commended Title Winners website. This book is poetic in nature, following a pattern where the main character, Joseph, is learning all of what his grandfather's hands could and can do. Joseph's grandfather is teaching him how to tie shoes, play card tricks, and swing a baseball bat. Amongst these tasks, Joseph's grandfather also teaches him ab ...more
Jake Newnom
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This picture book story is about a young African-American boy named Joseph and his grandfather and how he learns, from his grandfather how to do all of these wonderful things with his hands, and what his grandad did with his own hands growing up as a black man during racial segregation and stereotyping. Grandfather shows Joseph that with his hands, he could hit a baseball, play the piano, tie his shows, and even bake bread. Joseph’s grandfather goes on to share memories of a time when he and cou ...more
Molly Swank
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Summary: The book These Hands by Margaret Mason is a wonderful story about a young boy named Joseph and his grandfather. Joseph's grandfather discusses all the the things he could do with his hands such as playing piano, or baseball. Later in the book, Joseph's grandfather explains that although he was able to do a lot, he was not allowed to touch the bread at the factory he worked at because of his race. Joseph's grandfather then explains how many African Americans came together to fight discri ...more
Charly Carbray
This is a short, picture book that tells the story of a young boy and his grandfather. As they spend the day together, the boy’s grandpa tells him some of the many things that he and other African Americans were not allowed to do before the civil rights movement. After detailing many of the roadblocks thrown in his path, the boy’s grandfather then tells him of the ways people joined together in order to squash those ideas and accomplish what they wanted to do. Told in a light hearted, somewhat p ...more
Katie Helwig
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Awards received?
Charlotte Zolotow Award Nominee for Highly Commended Title, 2012

Appropriate Grade level?

Original Summary:
Joseph's grandfather tells his story of all the things his hands have done, from tying shoes and playing the piano, all the way up to changing the world. Joseph’s grandfather expresses the challenges he had to face based upon the color of his skin. This beautifully written book discusses the hardship Joseph’s grandfather had to deal with and his journey to overcome these ha
Marcie Gottlieb
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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