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Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis
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Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  770 ratings  ·  177 reviews
A glimpse into the boyhood of Civil Rights leader John Lewis.
John wants to be a preacher when he grows up—a leader whose words stir hearts to change, minds to think, and bodies to take action. But why wait? When John is put in charge of the family farm’s flock of chickens, he discovers that they make a wonderful congregation! So he preaches to his flock, and they listen
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Nancy Paulsen Books
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Picture book biography about the childhood of Congressman John Lewis, written by Jabari Asim and illustrated by E. B. Lewis.

John wanted to be a preacher from early childhood. He loved going to church and singing. He lived on a farm and was responsible for taking care of the chicken. John took this job seriously. He also would practice preaching to them and they seemed to be a willing audience.

The book is for age 5-8. It is a funny story with great illustrations of farm life.

Black History Month
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
In Memory of John Lewis

I hardly knew him. I didn’t know that he was a Freedom Rider, but I knew that e was a Civil-Rights leader. I had never read anything by him. But every time I heard him speak onTV, I was impressed by his kindness, his honesty, and everything he had to say. He would have made a great president. There was much to admire in this man. He will be missed.

When he was a child his family were sharecroppers. They had hens, and he actually preached to them, and when he preached, they
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on the corner where the civil rights marchers would've been lined up in 1965 to begin their march, now sits the Selma Interpretive Center. It is a National Park Service site, staffed by a park ranger. Inside are exhibits and photos and quotes helping to explain what led up to Bloody Sunday and its aftermath.

Yesterday, before leaving the building to walk the bridge, I glanced around the very small gift shop and saw nothing to tempt my bu
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
E.B. Lewis's expressive watercolors are always beautiful and add emotion to any story, including this one about the young life of John Lewis and his attachment to the chickens on the farm he grew up on. ...more
Dee Dee G
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
The pictures in this book are beautiful. Nice introduction to young John Lewis.
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
First sentence: Little John Lewis loved the spring. He loved it not only because it was the time when the whole planet came alive, but also because it was the season of the chicks. Winter was too cold to bring them safely into the world, and summer was too hot. Spring was just right.

Premise/plot: This is a picture book biography of a young John Lewis. As a boy, he was in charge of the chickens on the family farm--about sixty. One of the things he loved to do was to preach to the chickens.

Like t
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
A great short on the beginning of a Legend in the Making
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I had never heard of John Lewis until I read this book, which focuses on his childhood growing up on a farm in southern Alabama. John had the makings of a preacher from an early age, and liked to preach to the chickens he was in charge of. Information at the back of the book tells about his life after he grew up. I had no idea he was so active in so many civil rights events. Asim mentions here that this story is based on events described in Lewis' autobiography, which I put on my reading list af ...more
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a fun and informative look at the childhood of civil rights activits had Congressman John Lewis. Focusing on a period in his life when he was growing up on his family's farm, readers get a chance to see where his amazing oratorical skills started. He was responsible for caring for the family's chickens, and he fell into the role of minister and preacher for the chicks. He would practice what he experienecd while in church with his family as he kept the flock of chickens safe.

The beautifu
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humane-education
Before he became a civil rights leader, John Lewis dreamed of being a preacher when he grew up. As a child, his church was his family's farm, and his congregation was a flock of chickens.

CHICKENS is a sweet, charming, and affecting book about a little boy's care and concern for these humble and overlooked birds. Like any person who bonds with an animal, he recognizes each bird and her personality individually and has a name for each one. There's gentle humor, such as when John quotes the Bible t
Holly Mueller
I loved this book for a several reasons - I love chickens, E.B. Lewis's illustrations, and the fact that Jabari Asim authored this book because I loved Fifty Cents and a Dream. I also love this book because it is my first Goodreads book of 2017! ...more
Preaching to the Chickens is a sweet and funny snippet from the childhood of John Lewis who "dreamed of being a preacher, moving crowds to action with the power of his sermons," and later became a prominent civil rights leader. But even as a small child John Lewis "was a doer, ... and instead of just dreaming, he practiced with a captive audience: the chickens on his family farm."

I knew close to nothing about John Lewis before reading this picturebook, but the author's note at the end of the boo
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written and illustrated book for young people (of all ages) about the young John Lewis.
Nicole Misra
I loved this book thoroughly with all of its Biblical quotations and imagery. =)
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A fitting book to read today after mourning John Lewis's death just a few days ago. An inspirational leader for all--even his chickens! ...more
Richie Partington
Richie’s Picks: PREACHING TO THE CHICKENS: THE STORY OF YOUNG JOHN LEWIS by Jabari Asim and E.B. Lewis, ill., Nancy Paulsen Books, October 2016, 32p., ISBN: 978-0-399-16856-7

“When I look out over this diverse crowd and survey the guests on this platform, it seemed to realize what Otis Redding sang about and what Martin Luther King Jr. preached about. This moment in our history has been a long time coming, but a change has come.”
--John Lewis speaking at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washin
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
This beautiful picture book captures the charm, intelligence, and kindness of John Lewis evident in his chicken preaching and, later, in his voting rights marching and truth speaking legacy.
Carol Tilley
Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, kids
Beautiful illustrations are the highlight of this slice of John Lewis's childhood. ...more
Beautiful pictures. Good story about a man in history whose name I have heard, but whose story I did not know. While his actions could be considered funny from one perspective, I found them quite sweet and a good example of starting young to find and live one's dream. ...more
Many young readers will be fascinated to learn about the formative years of John Lewis, one of the original Freedom Riders and now a Congressman from Georgia. Although the story only hints of his future greatness, its very simplicity is what will entice readers who may shake their heads at how devoted this boy was to the family chickens and how he shared with them the message that mattered so much to him. Readers will see much of the man that is to come in his gentle actions and the loving way h ...more
A look at the formative years John Lewis spent living on his family's farm, tending the chickens. Memories are woven together with Bible verses for vignettes in which Lewis is shown doing early work on behalf of others as foreshadowing for his important work involving the Civil Rights movement and as a congressman.

The writing is stellar and the watercolor and gouache artwork complements the tone of the story very well.

There is an author's note following the story, though it mostly focuses on t
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you're looking for a book to introduce John Lewis to your children, pick up this one. It is a gorgeously illustrated picture book biography of the man, concentrating on his time taking care of his family's flock of chickens. You see shadows of the man he will become. A short author's note at the end explains the inspiration. ...more
Joanne Roberts
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cybils-nominees
Warm, gentle, and genuine voice. Features early life of important but neglected historical figure. Author note tells the story of who the boy in the story grew up to be. Love how the text weaves early experiences as influences for adult life. Dialogue sparkles.
Edward Sullivan
Wonderful, inspirational story from John Lewis's childhood beautifully complemented with E.B. Lewis's always stunning watercolor illustrations. ...more
It’s wonderful when someone takes a small piece of someone’s life and makes it bigger than life, probably because of who the person became later. This is a story by Jabari Asim, that many have praised because it shows the seeds of the best traits of John Lewis. There was hard work to be done on his farm in South Carolina, and John was in charge of the chickens, all sixty! He appears to be their ally, sharing advice to praise the day, saving one from a fall in a well, telling others about the le ...more
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
(Grades K-3)

Civil Rights Leader and activist, and Congressman John Lewis, grew up on a farm in Georgia where he attended church with his family regularly. On the farm John's job, as a young boy, was caring for the chickens: 60 Rhode Island Reds. Everyday he rose early to feed them and add fresh straw to their nests. He also talked to the chickens and he also practiced peaching his bible verses like "Blessed are the peacemakers,' while the chickens fought over their morning meal.

When others came
Habeeba Pasha
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: info-bios
Preaching to the Chickens (2016) caught my eye because of its funny title but is recommended by CBCH (2019) as a story of young civil rights leader John Lewis life written by Jabari Asim and illustrated by E.B. Lewis. The book is a New York’s Time best illustrator book. The text grade level is K-3 with a reading level of 5-8. I listened to a read-aloud of the text on YouTube. Vocabulary incudes farm, work, trusting, huge, hitch, mule, cotton and stirring.
CBCH (2019) states that “an effective n
Stephanie Tournas
Georgia congressman John Lewis, a prominent member of the civil rights movement in the 1960's, originally trained to be a minister. When he was a little boy he treated his family's chickens as a congregation, tending to them lovingly, baptizing them, and preaching to them of God's love. He even convinced his family to let them live, instead of being eaten: "The chickens stayed on the farm, and John learned to speak up for those who can't speak for themselves." This picture book biography capture ...more
Stephanie Croaning
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a story about civil rights icon John Lewis as a boy. Lewis wanted to be a preacher when he grew up, but instead of just dreaming about the future, he becomes a doer, preaching to the chickens that his mother put him in charge of. When a rolling store man came by and wanted to trade supplies for a hen, John convinced his parents to trade other things because he didn't want to lose any of his chickens -- "The chickens stayed on the farm, and John learned to speak up for those who can't spe ...more
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Evocative illustrations and a tightly focused look at the boyhood of Civil Rights icon and Georgia Congressman John Lewis. Particularly pertinent to read this book in January 2017 just as Lewis was in the news for boycotting Trump’s inaugural (which resulted in a widely criticized tweet from Trump which disparaged Lewis). The language and tone have the feel of John’s sharecropper family and the culture of the church- and farm-centered community. Not all words are explained, nor should they be in ...more
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