February Picture Books

Character Theme: Caring Hands and Black History Month

Nelson Mandela

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1918 -2013

Nelson Mandela

Author: Kadir Nelson


This book, published in 2013, is a stunning, abbreviated biography of Nelson Mandela's life struggle suitable for both primary and junior level students. Kadir Nelson tells the story of Mandela, a global icon, in moving free verse and beautiful illustrations. It is the story of a young boy's determination to change South Africa, and of the struggles of a man who eventually became the president of his country by believing in equality for all people, no matter the colour of their skin. When freedom finally comes, people of many racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrate Mandela's release. Readers will be inspired by Mandela's triumph and his lifelong quest to create a more just world.

At the end of the book, the author retells the story of Mandela's fight against apartheid in simple prose, and adds more detail to the story, including Mandela's Nobel Peace Prize. A short bibliography lists additional sources to consult about Mandela, his life, and his important place in history.


Critical Question: What can you infer about why Nelson was so successful in life from this story, and through what actions can we continue to celebrate Mandela's memory?

Nelson Mandela: "Champion of Freedom"

Author: Simon Rose


Nelson Mandela was a respected political leader and humanitarian. As the first black president of South Africa, he was well-known for his political activism and fight to end apartheid. This informational text provides an in-depth look at Mandela's inspiration, achievements, and successes, and includes firsthand accounts of events, as well as fascinating visuals to engage students.


Written before Mandela's death, this book explains who Mandela was, his life growing up, key events in his life story, the nature of life in South Africa under apartheid, and how Nelson Mandela ultimately overcame his struggle and transformed his nation and the world.


Critical Question: How did Mandela's struggle, work and leadership affect the ways in which world leaders approach solving political issues? How did it affect how we as world citizens view the lives and traditions of those whose beliefs are different from our own?

Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Author: Nelson Mandela


Nelson Mandela is a true hero of our times, loved and admired across the globe for his dedication to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, and for justice and peace throughout the world. This book tells the story of his life, from his childhood as an ordinary village boy, to his leadership of the African National Congress, his long years in prison and his eventual freedom and election to the Presidency of South Africa. This book describes Mandela's life with beautiful illustrations and words written for a younger audience.


Critical Question: How does Nelson Mandela's life story inspire you to live your own?

Mandela: From the Life of the South African Statesman

Author: Floyd Cooper


Few people have inspired as much respect or loyalty as Nelson Mandela. Mandela came from a royal Thembu family and was taught the ways of leadership early in his life. This book traces his days as a school boy, where he is assigned the name Nelson; as a college man, and as the first black to open a Johannesburg law office (with his law partner). In all phases of his life, Mandela firmly resisted injustices wherever he saw them. Raised in a racist nation, Mandela's life is a story of courage, persistence, hope and belief. Floyd Cooper is also the illustrator of this book. His oil paintings are injected with golden light. Wind is also an important image in the book. often as a reminder of the strength of Mandela's convictions and resolve.


Critical Question: How do the images and art work found in this book tell the story of Mandela's character and strength, and his impact on the world?

Nelson Mandela--Video for Teachers

Nelson Mandela Death: A Look at South Africa's First Black President - Documentary

Nelson Mandela--Video Tribute and Activity for Students

Students can send tributes to Mandela through the web link at the end of this video.
A Kids Tribute to Nelson Mandela