Connect. Moved. Dreamed. Speak. Loved. Graduated. Organize. Improve. Honor. Listen. Campaigned. Represent. Traveled. Voted. Oversee. Create. Earned. Helped. Challenge. Announced. Convince. Do. Protested. Gained. Planted. Ascend. Inspired. Pave. Awarded.
What do all these words have in common?
They’re all verbs used to tell Shirley Chisholm’s story. And in doing so, they bring her energy to the page. Brilliant!
Some words, when they CONNECT with the right people, become
almost like potions or spells. These words become magical.
That’s the way it was with Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and
verbs. She understood, almost intuitively, how and why vers are
not just words about being, but doing.
Verbs are words that move the world forward.
She was an inspired organizer (Head Start) and legislator, who was the first Black person and the first woman to make a serious bid for the presidency. But she didn’t see herself in that narrow role. She said:
“I am not the candidate for black America, although I am Black and proud.””
“I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman and I am equally proud of that.”
“I am the candidate of the people of America.”
I wish I’d been old enough to vote for her when she ran for president in 1972.
Veronica Chamber’s words bring Shirley Chisholm to energetic life. And the illustrations by Rachelle Baker capture the vibe of the 1960s and 70s perfectly.
Identify all of the verbs in this book, not just the ones that are highlighted, and write a poem, using some of those verbs.
Make a copy of one of the pages of this book or write out all of the text from one page onto a single piece of paper. Make a “blackout” poem with the printed page. Does your poem reflect the meaning expressed by what the author wrote on that page, or does it express a completely different meaning?
Pair this book with Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice by Nikki Grimes.
Title: Shirley Chisholm Is a Verb
Author: Veronica Chambers
Illustrator: Rachelle Baker
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2020
Ages: Elementary school age children
Themes: U.S. history, Black history, civic participation
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s website.