Midnight Teacher by Janet Halfmann

Midnight Teacher by Janet Halfmann is the story of one woman’s courageous journey to improve the lives of others through literacy.

Born into slavery, Lilly Ann Granderson was sold to a slave owner in Kentucky after the death of her mother. The master’s children would often play school and gave Lilly an old speller and taught her to read. She began sharing this gift of reading with others on the plantation. Once the owner died, she was sold to a cotton plantation in Mississippi, where it was illegal for slaves to learn to read. Undeterred, she restarted her school, teaching late at night to avoid being caught. The school grew. When patrollers discovered the slave school Lilly faced a hard punishment, but the authorities eventually ruled there was no law against a slave teaching other slaves.

What I admire about Halfmann’s biographies is that she highlights people who have made a difference in this world long past the pivotal times in which they lived. Granderson’s story displays her tremendous strength and determination to offer a gift that others took for granted because it was never a right denied to them. She knew the risks and faced them without fear of the consequences because she believed education was the path to freedom for her people. Between Halfmann’s moving text and London Ladd’s stunning artwork, the reader is immediately drawn into Granderson’s story.

A perfect book for any school or personal library, Midnight Teacher could inspire many school projects and empower young people to action for the causes for which they are passionate.

Highly recommended!

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Grades 1-6
Reading Level Grades 3-6
Lexile Measure: 950 (What’s this?)
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Lee & Low Books; Illustrated edition (February 13, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620141639
ISBN-13: 978-1620141632

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

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Coming in February: Midnight Teacher by Janet Halfmann

Halfmann tells the powerful story of Lily Ann Granderson, an enslaved woman who “believed the path to freedom was through education.” Ladd’s rich, naturalistic acrylic-and-pencil images depict Granderson’s upbringing in Kentucky, where she learned to read and write in secret, then shared her knowledge with other children. As an enslaved adult in Mississippi, Granderson risked punishment by holding night classes in an empty cabin: “Landowners feared that if the enslaved could read, they would discover that some northerners wanted slavery abolished.” After the school is discovered, Granderson is shocked to learn that she won’t be punished (Halfmann speculates about why she might have escaped punishment in an afterword) and reopens her school, teaching as a free woman for many more years. The painful but uplifting narrative may spark readers’ curiosity about other enslaved individuals whose stories have not yet been told.

Age Range: 7 – 11 years
Grade Level: 3 – 4
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Lee & Low Books; Illustrated edition (February 6, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1620141639
ISBN-13: 978-1620141632

Pre-order from Amazon or other online retailers.