February 2013 Issue
January 31, 2013

Check it Out: Having Our Say

Source: NYSUT United
Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years bookcover

Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years

By Sarah A. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth

Recommended by: Kim Donius, Pre-K-6 and 7-12 school librarian, Alfred-Almond Teachers Association

Suitable for: grades 9-12

Why I chose this book: This is a story about the extraordinary lives of two sisters, daughters of a former slave, who unveil their against-all-odds lives. Both women, civil rights pioneers who lived past the age of 100, didn't observe history, they made it. Overcoming racism and sexism, A. Elizabeth "Bessie" Delany became the second African-American woman to practice dentistry in New York state, while Sarah "Sadie" Delany became the first African-American to teach Domestic Science in a New York City public high school.

How teachers can use this book: This inspiring oral history can generate interest and reflection about the roles of women in society, African-American history, careers, slavery, prejudice and education.

The book begs students to offer their opinions and thoughts about the Delany sisters' lives and accomplishments amid white-dominated America. Their story is a natural for American history classes, and will provide an incredibly interesting resource for lessons grounded in Common Core.

What I like best: The writing in this work is honest, based on the sisters' recollections. I like the way they speak their minds.

About the authors: In 1994, the sisters and Hearth published The Delany Sisters' Book of Everyday Wisdom. After Bessie's death in 1995 at age 104, Sadie Delany and Hearth created a third book, On My Own At 107: Reflections on Life Without Bessie. Sadie died in 1999.

"Check it Out" features books recommended to teachers and parents by school librarians. Have a recommendation? School librarians may send suggestions, along with your name and local union, to lfrenett@nysutmail.org.