Asim, Jabari. Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Book T. Washington
Illustrated by Bryan Collier
4 December 2012, Little, Brown
This picture book biography covers mainly Washington's youth, from his days as a slave being unable by law to be able to read, through his family's life in West Virginia where he worked in the coal mines, to the fulfillment of his dream of getting a college education at the Hampton Institute. I love how this book points out how much Washington wanted to learn, and the extreme lengths he went to in order to make his education possible-- walking 500 miles to get to the school, working as a janitor to afford his room and board, etc. Afterwords fill in more information about his later career. A short bibliography is included.
Strengths: This would be a good read aloud during Black History Month since it stresses the importance of education. It would be a good introduction to Booker T. Washington, and might encourage older students to read a longer book about his entire career.
Weaknesses: While Washington's struggles are portrayed, the book waxes a bit idyllic somehow. Perhaps that is just the difference between picture books and biographies for older students.