What Color is my world? A Black History Book Feature

Written by Melissa-Sue John

​What color is my world? The Lost History of American Inventors was written by Kareem Abdul- Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld and illustrated by Ben Boos and A.G. Ford. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s name may sound familiar to you because he is one of the most accomplished basketball players in US history. He is also a New York Times bestselling author of seven books. His passion is to increase the engagement of history and social studies to children. 

What color is my world? is a young readers chapter book about a brother and sister twin, Ella and Herbie. We are introduced to a character, named Mr. Mital, who teaches the children that their house is like a museum in that so much of its contents were invented or innovated by African Americans. In a quick 2 hour read (well thats how long it took me to read as I waited for Olivia Lauren during her extracurricular activities), children are exposed to over a dozen African American inventors, engineers, and doctors. It is February that means it is that time to celebrate Black History. So I have been reading up about different contributors to feature on the Lauren Simone Pubs Instagram page (@laurensimonepubs). During my search, I notice that most people feature male African Americans. I was glad to see that this book was unbiased and noted the contributions of women. It also mentioned the difficulties of being educated and unemployed and the struggles of being in interracial relationships. The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same. Yet, reading this book I feel grateful because while oppression still exists, without a doubt, it isn't as difficult as it used to be. This book inspires me to work harder and never take my opportunities for granted. I am grateful for the giants who stood before us and the courage and determination they demonstrated to open doors for us today.  

​Creatively illustrated in Black and White, each page of the paperback fills your imagination and increases your curiosity. The dialogue between the characters is engaging and humorous. The authors were clearly well read and write articulately.  I was never disengaged for a minute. It was a story within a story. An education in history in the background of two argumentative siblings. 

All children should be informed of the contributions made by these great heroes, especially since so many concern their daily lives. The electricity they pretend their parents don't have to pay for. The chips they eat with their lunch made by George Crum. The ice-cream they have for dessert was shared using a scoop invented by Alfred Cralle. Maybe try having ice-cream and chips as illustrated below! 

The fried chicken or chicken nuggets wouldn’t be possible without the contributions of the bread machine invented by Joseph Lee. Finally, they wouldn’t be able to hear very well on their cellphones without James West. Truly fantastic read. Not sure, why I didnt read it sooner!

I bought this book for my daughter for her 10th birthday. She was attending a STEM school and seemed fascinated by engineering. I wanted her to see that her inventions didnt have to be entirely new, but could be an improvisation of something old. 

I recommend that you too purchase for your son or daughter, no matter what age, race, ethnicity, and nationality, hobbies, or interests. This book gets 5 stars!

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