Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman (1991)
Amazing Grace tells the story of a beautiful young girl who loves stories, adventures, and fun. Grace often spends her time pretending to be characters from her favorite stories, including Joan of Arc, Anansi the Spider, and Hiawatha. At school, her teacher explained that the class would be putting on the play Peter Pan. Grace really wanted to be Peter, but a couple of her friends said she couldn’t possibly be Peter because she was a girl and because she was black. Of course, upon hearing from Grace that her friends had said those things, her mother was very upset. Grace felt sad about the whole ordeal, so her grandmother took her to see the ballet Romeo and Juliet, starring Rosalie Wilkins, an African American ballerina, as the “Stunning New Juliet.” Seeing Rosalie Wilkins perform inspired Grace to practice hard for the Peter Pan role, and ultimately she got it!
I think this story is great for all children because most of it is relatable; children love playing pretend and they love listening to stories. Grace is a character who is easy to love and identify with. If you are looking to bring a more diverse collection of books to your classroom, I believe this is a good example of African American children’s literature. This book can also be a good conversation starter for prejudice and racial discrimination.
Posted by: Cynthia Vu