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  • Michelle Nott

A Matter of Listening to Hear

When We Say Black Lives Matter written and illustrated by Maxine Beneba Clarke, published by Candlewick Press.


It's no secret to anyone that, for centuries, black and brown people have been denied (in words and actions) the same level of respect and dignity as people with paler skin. For that unfortunate reason, this emotional and powerful picture book is an important read for all children.


When We Say Black Lives Matter helps to affirm and celebrate the worth of the many children who have been less seen in literature and misunderstood in society.


Equally, it's important for white children to be read this picture book to grow up free from believing that they are the only ones who matter... and for their grown-ups to understand and to avoid misinterpreting the phrase, "Black Lives Matter."


When readers listen, they will hear from the point of view of a parent to a child from the first page, "Little one,..." The parent further addresses the child as "Little love," "My sweet," "Darling,...


This endearing tone is one of love, protection, pride, and joy... a common feeling from all parents. The cadence and rhythm of the author's verse, combined with her art, embrace the reader safely while explaining the meaning of...


"when we sing that Black Lives Matter..."

"When we whisper Black Lives Matter..."

"When we sob Black Lives Matter..."

"When we smile Black Lives Matter..."


If readers listen to truly hear, they will grow towards understanding the meaning of and importance of expressing (in words and actions) the phrase Black Lives Matter.


Imagine it!


Is there something you'd like to say, for people to know, to urge people to do, but they just don't understand?


For example, sometimes it's hard to say why we're sad.


Imagine how you could clarify how you're feeling like Maxine Beneba Clarke did.


Consider the author's lines:


When we sob that Black Lives Matter

we're saying trouble

still stalks,

to this da


Has anyone ever asked you why you were smiling, but you just couldn't explain it?


Consider the author's lines:


When we smile

Black Lives Matter,

we're raising our spirits high.


Imagine how you could write your own verse to explain what you want to say.


Write a few lines and/or draw a picture as this author-illustrator did.


Imagine the emotions and the beauty you could share.





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