Jun 6, 2023
Kim Taylor shares A Flag for Juneteenth, a unique and powerful story of the celebration of the first Juneteenth, from the perspective of a young girl.
BOOK DESCRIPTION: A Flag for Juneteenth by Kim Taylor
Expert quilter Kim Taylor shares a unique and powerful story of the celebration of the first Juneteenth, from the perspective of a young girl.
On June 19, 1865, in Galveston, General Gordon Granger of the Union Army delivered the message that African Americans in Texas were free. Since then, Juneteenth, as the day has come to be known, has steadily gained recognition throughout the United States. ln 2020,a powerful wave of protests and demonstrations calling for racial justice and equality brought new awareness to the significance of the holiday.
A Flag for Juneteenth depicts a close-knit community of enslaved African Americans on a plantation in Texas, the day before the announcement is to be made that all enslaved people are free. Young Huldah, who is preparing to celebrate her tenth birthday, can’t possibly anticipate how much her life will change that Juneteenth morning. The story follows Huldah and her community as they process the news of their freedom and celebrate together by creating a community freedom flag.
Debut author and artist Kim Taylor sets this story apart by applying her skills as an expert quilter. Each of the illustrations has been lovingly hand sewn and quilted, giving the book a homespun, tactile quality that is altogether unique.
(12:19) “So I wrote a little story just really to help young people, students, and some adults know a little bit more about the history of Juneteenth. But it wasn't a book idea yet. It was really just sort of a story to help me explain my quilts.”
(14:22) “When I was a little girl, I was an avid reader. I mean, really, literally everything I could get my, anything I could get my hands on. I love to read. But I also recognize that while I was reading, I was taken to so many amazing places and I was able to use my imagination and ama, um, guess what the characters look like and you know, really see them.”
(15:42) “One of the things I wanted my readers to do was to connect deeply with the characters. I wanted them to care about the characters. But more than anything else, I wanted them to see themselves in the characters.”
(18:52) “Sometimes when we talk about the time of enslavement, we think about a group of people having a shared collective experience, which is true, but we failed to look at the individuals in that story.”
(20:06) “I wasn't just writing about a time, I was writing about people.”
(21:22) “They had families and they tried really hard to make sure they connected with their families. And it wasn't always easy to do that outside of their labor. And they didn't have a lot of time, a lot of free time to be with their families, but they worked really hard to figure out how to do that.”
(24:48) “I'd like for you to make this promise to yourself that you will always remember that Black history is American history and that we are all very important and that that time in history is important, just like any other time in history. It's really important to be always curious and always wanna learn more.”
TALK ABOUT THE EPISODE:
What is Juneteenth? What two words are combined together to make the name of the holiday? What celebration does Juneteenth seek to preserve?
Kim Taylor talks about intentionally leaving off the faces of her characters in her quilts as an opportunity for readers to see themselves in a book. Can you recall an experience of connecting to a book character so closely it felt as if you were being seen? What book were you reading? Over what experience or quality or characteristic did you connect?
Kim is not only an expert quilter, she uses the medium to tell stories. Explore some of the quilts on Kim’s portfolio page and consider what stories she is telling through her craft.
This podcast episode of The Children’s Book Podcast was written, edited, and produced by Matthew Winner. For a full transcript of this episode, visit matthewcwinner.com.
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Fellow teachers and librarians, want a way to explore building a stronger culture of reading in our communities? In The Reading Culture podcast, Beanstack co-founder Jordan Bookey hosts conversations that dive into beloved authors' personal journeys and insights into motivating young people to read. And I am a big fan! Check out the Reading Culture Podcast with Jordan Bookey, from Beanstack. Available wherever podcasts are found.
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