Common core
Common core

Heart and Soul

By Kadir Nelson, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson's Heart and Soul—the winner of numerous awards, including the 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award and Illustrator Honor, and the recipient of five starred reviews—now features eight pages of discussion and curriculum material.

The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it's about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it's about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It's a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination, and triumphs.

Told through the unique point of view and intimate voice of a one-hundred-year-old African-American female narrator, this inspiring book demonstrates that in gaining their freedom and equal rights, African Americans helped our country achieve its promise of liberty and justice—the true heart and soul of our nation.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

  • Grade level: 6
  • Interest Level: 3-7
  • Guided Reading Level: W


Describe how a text presents information. Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author?s point of view or purpose. Identify key steps in a text?s description of a process related to history.

How does the presentation of information enhance the reader?s understanding of the content? Describe the structure of the book. RL.6-8.5

How does the author integrate visual information in Heart and Soul? How does it set the tone or mood? RL.6-8.7

What is the author?s purpose for writing this book? Use examples from the text. RL.6-8.6


Heart and Soul Teaching Guide

This teaching guide for Heart and Soul contains discussion questions, classroom activities, and an interview with Kadir Nelson, and it's aligned with Common Core standards for grades 4-8. The guide covers such themes as point of view, author's purpose, structure, research, and more. [PDF]

Download Resource

  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Imprint: Balzer + Bray
  • Format: Paperback
  • On Sale: 11/30/-0001
  • ISBN: 9780061730795
  • ISBN 10: 0061730793
  • ISBN 13: 9780061730795
  • Pages: 112
  • Trim Size: 10.00 x 10.00 in
  • Subcategory:
  • Juvenile Nonfiction / People & Places / United States / African American
  • Juvenile Fiction / Historical / United States / General
  • Juvenile Nonfiction / Biography & Autobiography / Cultural Heritage

Publishers Weekly (starred review)As in WE ARE THE SHIP, Nelson knits together the nation's proudest moments with its most shameful, taking on the whole of African-American history. He handles this vast subject with easy grace. [Nelson's] jaw-dropping portraits radiate determination and strength. A tremendous achievement.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)The dramatic oil paintings heighten the dignity of this story, whether they are of well-known historical figures, common folk or landscape...This intimate narrative makes the stories accessible to young readers and powerfully conveys how personal this history feels for many African-Americans.

Booklist (starred review)Nelson...adds to his notable titles with this powerful view of African American history. Illustrated with 44 full-page paintings, this handsome volume is told in the fictionalized, informal voice of an African American senior looking back on her life and remembering what her elders told her.

School Library Journal (starred review)Provocative and powerful, this book offers a much-needed perspective for individuals of all ages seeking to understand America's past and present.

Horn Book (starred review)Nelson effectively creates a voice that is at once singular and representative. A tour de force in the career of an author/artist who continues to outdo himself.

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