Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School

Midnight TeacherAn unsung hero and literacy champion whose teaching changed many lives. An excellent homage to an African-American woman who taught ahead of her time. – Kirkus Reviews

In Mississippi in the mid-1800s, it was illegal for enslaved people to learn to read and write. Getting caught meant thirty-nine lashes with a whip as punishment. But this did not stop Lilly Ann Granderson, an enslaved woman herself. She believed in the power of education. To share her knowledge with others, she started a midnight school.

Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School.  is a remarkable story that remains relevant today as young readers think about their roles in the ongoing struggle for justice. London Ladd’s  acrylic paint and colored pencil illustrations effectively accent the text’s theme of hope. Scenes of struggle are instilled with light that represents the activists’ prospect for positive outcomes.

In a small cabin hidden in a back alley, Lilly Ann held her secret classes. Every noise in the dark was a reminder of the punishment she and her students faced if they were found out. But the chance to learn was worth the risk.

Over the years, Lilly Ann taught hundreds of enslaved people to read and write. Many of her students went on to share their knowledge with their families. Some started secret schools of their own. Others forged passes to escape to freedom in the North.

Based on a true story, Midnight Teacher is an inspiring testament to a little-known pioneer in education. An informative afterword and bibliography makes this nuanced tale a useful addition to U.S. history classes. The substance, vivid description, and compelling narrative is a vibrant representation of the determination and courage of the civil rights movement.

Janet Halfmannis the author of more than thirty books for children, including several nonfiction and natural science titles. When she’s not writing, Halfmann enjoys working in the garden, exploring nature, visiting new places, especially wildlife areas and living-history museums, and watching movies. Halfmann lives with her husband in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Young readers will be inspired to make a big difference. This appealing book reminds us that great leaders aren’t only found on the big screen or front pages of media.  Students can always take their own their first steps towards something “big.”

Written by Michael Strickland

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