HOOKED ON BIOGRAPHIES
I’ve always loved biographies. When I was young, I spent countless hours at the library scouring the aisles for just the right books. Biographies were a favorite because I loved being drawn into another person’s world. I remember struggling through a dark, silent world with Helen Keller, traveling the globe with Life photographer Margaret Bourke-White, and learning about mysterious cultures with anthropologist Margaret Mead.
Years later when I began writing for children, I wanted to write the same sort of biographies that thrilled me as a child. Biographies filled with illuminating tidbits of information that revealed what made someone else’s life different or similar to my own. Over the years, I’ve written about many fascinating people, from determined basketball ball legend Steve Nash to imaginative Pokémon creator, Satoshi Tajiri. I’ve written about scientist Doris Taylor, who grew a beating heart, and important people in American history such as Harriet Tubman, Thomas Edison, and Marie Curie. As I researched each one, I discovered wonderful details about their lives and their indomitable spirit that made me want to shake someone’s shoulder and say, “Did you know this?”
What are a few? Thomas Edison was such a notable inventor that on the night of his funeral, Americans turned off their lights at ten p.m. for one minute to honor the great inventor. Amelia Earhart’s independent spirit was reflected in an entry made in her yearbook that said, “Amelia Earhart—to the girl in brown who walks alone.” Marie Curie unknowingly exposed herself to so much radiation during her research, her notebooks are still radioactive today. Of all my biographies, I’m most pleased with Come See the Earth Turn: The Story of Léon Foucault published by Tricycle/Random House in 2010, about the unassuming French scientist who proved the earth turned when others with more degrees and honors had failed for centuries.
ON TOUR WITH NANCY I. SANDERS
Because I love biographies, I’m especially delighted to welcome author Nancy I. Sanders to my blog today, one stop on her two-week virtual book tour for her super new release, Frederick Douglass for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities.
Few Americans have had as much impact on this nation as Frederick Douglass. Born on a plantation, he later escaped slavery and helped others to freedom via the Underground Railroad. In time he became a bestselling author, an outspoken newspaper editor, a brilliant orator, a tireless abolitionist, and a brave civil rights leader. He was famous on both sides of the Atlantic in the years leading up to the Civil War, and when war broke out, Abraham Lincoln invited him to the White House for counsel and advice.
Frederick Douglass for Kids follows the footsteps of this American hero, from his birth into slavery to his becoming a friend and confidant of presidents and the leading African American of his day. And to better appreciate Frederick Douglass and his times, readers will form a debating club, cook a meal similar to the one Douglass shared with John Brown, make a civil war haversack, participate in a microlending program, and more. This valuable resource also includes a time line of significant events, a list of historic sites to visit or explore online, and web resources for further study.
Nancy I. Sanders is the bestselling and award-winning author of over 80 books including the well-loved homeschooling curriculum to teach kids how to write, WriteShop Primary (Grades K-2) and WriteShop Junior (Grades 3-5). She teaches other writers how to launch their career to the next level based on material found in her groundbreaking book for writers, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career. Nancy and her husband, Jeff, live in southern California.
Interview with Nancy i. sanders
What was a highlight of writing this book?
The highlight was definitely being able to take a 2-week photo-research tour to follow in the footsteps of Frederick Douglass from his birth to his death. Before I started writing the book, my husband and adult son and I toured through the Eastern Shores of Maryland, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, New Bedford, and Boston, snapping tons of photographs of historic sites and gaining a deeper understanding of Frederick Douglass, his life and his times. Not only was I able to get some great photographs to put in my book that have never before been published in a book about this great man, but it was a deeply moving experience of a lifetime. We did things such as stand on the street corner where the building was located when Frederick Douglass was hidden on the Underground Railroad as he escaped from slavery…to driving along the parade route he marched along in Philadelphia when he was reunited as a famous man with the descendants of his former owners. It was an amazing experience!
Was there something you learned about Frederick Douglass that impacted your life?
Yes. I learned that Frederick Douglass truly loved his fellow man. He had a generous heart and gave up comfort and safety for himself and his family to devote his life to the cause of helping others. He saw himself as equal with everyone, whether black or white, whether man or woman, and he dedicated his life to helping bring equal rights to our nation and to the world.
What else did you learn about Frederick Douglass while writing this book?
As other biographies of Douglass have shared, this great man had many influential white friends such as William Lloyd Garrison, and many leading women friends such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I include these in my book, too.
What I discovered through reading Douglass’s autobiographies, however, (and which many biographers don’t mention) is that Frederick Douglass was also friends with nearly every African American leader of his day. He published their speeches and articles in his newspapers. He attended their churches and conventions. He traveled and spoke with these important leaders, and entertained many in his home. He worked together with them to help fugitive slaves escape to freedom along the Underground Railroad.
In Frederick Douglass for Kids, I include short biographies and photographs of many of these black leaders who were friends and associates of Douglass. On my book’s website, I also include a list of names of many famous black abolitionists with links to learn more about these great and influential men and women who lived during the years leading up to the Civil War. This list is especially helpful for anyone studying America’s history as well as students writing reports for school. It can be accessed at: www.frederickdouglass.wordpress.com/black-abolitionists/
What are you doing to celebrate the release of your book, Frederick Douglass for Kids?
I’m hosting a two-week virtual Book Launch Party on my blog! Each day I’ve been showcasing photos I took when I traveled back to the East Coast and sharing a bit of the behind-the-scenes journey of writing this book and learning more about Frederick Douglass.
There are prizes to win, fun facts to learn, and lots of inside peeks and helpful tips about how a book is born. Stop by my site today to join in the party and a chance to win a set of full-color autographed bookmarks of the book at:
For more information visit Nancy at: www.nancyisanders.com, www.FrederickDouglass.wordpress.com. Purchase the book at: http://tinyurl.com/7opjcn4.
Thanks for stopping by, Nancy!