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Remembering Nelson Mandela

How do you explain a concept like apartheid to a classroom of children? How do you help young people understand why Nelson Mandela was imprisoned? How can we help inspire the leaders of tomorrow through his example, and help children connect to a political figure from another country?

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

As Nelson Mandela’s passing on December 5, 2013, touched the world, I found myself considering these questions. My immediate thought was gratitude for the beautiful picture biography by Kadir Nelson published earlier this year. The artwork is gorgeous—images with such depth and such powerful emotion reflected in the faces of Mandela and his countrymen that readers young and old will connect with the humanity behind Mandela’s story, even if they are just being introduced to the politics.

The text also offers clear explanations of the conditions in South Africa that Mandela and the African National Congress struggled to improve; but perhaps most effectively, it introduces Mandela as a child, allowing contemporary children to relate to him as he grew to become a leader. Like the best nonfiction, it also points readers toward other sources of information to continue exploring and celebrating the life of South Africa’s first black president.

Nelson Mandela will be remembered for brave deeds and wise words, including the statement “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” As we reflect on Mandela’s life, I hope that Kadir Nelson’s biography will help to continue educating 21st-century students about Mandela, apartheid, and the qualities of leadership Mandala exemplified.

 

 

About the Author: Mia Cabana is a managing editor of online copy at Scholastic Book Clubs. She has also worked as a young adult librarian and dreams of someday joyriding around the country in her own bookmobile.

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December 9, 2013