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With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School

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Booker T. Washington had an incredible passion for learning. Born a slave, he taught himself to read. When the Civil War ended, Booker finally fulfilled his dream of attending school. After graduation, he was invited to teach in Tuskegee, Alabama. Finding many eager students but no school, Booker set out to build his own school—brick by brick. An afterword gives detailed i Booker T. Washington had an incredible passion for learning. Born a slave, he taught himself to read. When the Civil War ended, Booker finally fulfilled his dream of attending school. After graduation, he was invited to teach in Tuskegee, Alabama. Finding many eager students but no school, Booker set out to build his own school—brick by brick. An afterword gives detailed information on how the school was built.


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Booker T. Washington had an incredible passion for learning. Born a slave, he taught himself to read. When the Civil War ended, Booker finally fulfilled his dream of attending school. After graduation, he was invited to teach in Tuskegee, Alabama. Finding many eager students but no school, Booker set out to build his own school—brick by brick. An afterword gives detailed i Booker T. Washington had an incredible passion for learning. Born a slave, he taught himself to read. When the Civil War ended, Booker finally fulfilled his dream of attending school. After graduation, he was invited to teach in Tuskegee, Alabama. Finding many eager students but no school, Booker set out to build his own school—brick by brick. An afterword gives detailed information on how the school was built.

30 review for With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shiloah

    Great introduction to Booker for kids. He was an inspirational man.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ammie

    I feel lazy after reading this one. What an inspirational man and crew!!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nativida

    Washington built Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, by hand, crafting brick by brick. The initial effort after making 25,000 bricks failed when the kiln broke. This happened not once, not twice, but three times! The fourth attempt proved successful and then Washington and his students could begin construction. And that is only part of the story friends. "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles which he has overcome while tryin Washington built Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, by hand, crafting brick by brick. The initial effort after making 25,000 bricks failed when the kiln broke. This happened not once, not twice, but three times! The fourth attempt proved successful and then Washington and his students could begin construction. And that is only part of the story friends. "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School is a children's picture book written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Nicole Tadgell. It is a cursory biography about the life of Booker T. Washington and how he built a school which he was famous for doing. February, at least in my part of the world is Black History Month, which I plan to read one children's book, particularly a biography, which pertains to the subject everyday this month. Therefore, I thought that this book would With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School is a children's picture book written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Nicole Tadgell. It is a cursory biography about the life of Booker T. Washington and how he built a school which he was famous for doing. February, at least in my part of the world is Black History Month, which I plan to read one children's book, particularly a biography, which pertains to the subject everyday this month. Therefore, I thought that this book would be apropos for today. Booker Taliaferro Washington was an American educator, author, orator, and advisor to presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African-American community. Slade's text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and informative. It tells the early life of Book T. Washington as a slave, who would eventually build the Tuskegee Institute. There is a very detailed afterward that gives detailed information on how the school was built. Tadgell's illustrations are drawn wonderfully well and depicted the narrative rather well also. The premise of the book is rather straightforward. Booker T. Washington had an incredible passion for learning, which is shown when he taught himself to read when he was a slave. When the Civil War ended, he finally fulfilled his dreams of attending school. After graduation, he was invited to teach in Tuskegee, Alabama. One problem – there was no school, despite the many eager students, so he ending up building the school brick by brick. All in all, With Books and Bricks: How Booker T. Washington Built a School is a wonderful and informative biography of Booker T. Washington and his love for learning, teaching, and building schools.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    First sentence: From sunrise to sunset, young Booker worked hard. He carried water to the fields. He carried corn to the mill. He carried rocks from the yard. All day long, Booker lugged heavy loads with a heavy heart because he was a slave. Premise/plot: This picture book biography of Booker T. Washington focuses on his mission of education. He believed that education would lead to empowerment and freedom and opportunity. Most of this one focuses on his work to literally build a school: working First sentence: From sunrise to sunset, young Booker worked hard. He carried water to the fields. He carried corn to the mill. He carried rocks from the yard. All day long, Booker lugged heavy loads with a heavy heart because he was a slave. Premise/plot: This picture book biography of Booker T. Washington focuses on his mission of education. He believed that education would lead to empowerment and freedom and opportunity. Most of this one focuses on his work to literally build a school: working to find the right clay, making bricks, baking bricks, using those bricks to build school buildings. It was not simple or straightforward. It was challenging, frustrating, seemingly hopeless. But with fierce determination, he proved that anything is possible. My thoughts: What an inspiring story of determination. When the third kiln broke, most anyone would have given up. But not him. I think this was a well-written story. Text: 4 out of 5 Illustrations: 4 out of 5 Total: 8 out of 10

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sheila Welch

    WITH BOOKS AND BRICKS by Suzanne Slade is a nonfiction picture book for ages six to twelve. It focuses on Booker T. Washington’s remarkable determination to build a school for Black students. Three attempts to make the necessary 25,000 bricks are thwarted when homemade kilns break, destroying the bricks. Finally, Booker sells his watch and buys a kiln that works. The resulting bricks become the first of many buildings that form Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. Expressive watercolors by WITH BOOKS AND BRICKS by Suzanne Slade is a nonfiction picture book for ages six to twelve. It focuses on Booker T. Washington’s remarkable determination to build a school for Black students. Three attempts to make the necessary 25,000 bricks are thwarted when homemade kilns break, destroying the bricks. Finally, Booker sells his watch and buys a kiln that works. The resulting bricks become the first of many buildings that form Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. Expressive watercolors by Nicole Tadgell compliment this inspirational account.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Booker T. Washington was a slave who built up his own life by teaching himself to read, becoming a teacher in Tuskegee, Alabama, and literally brick-by-brick built a school for others to learn. This wonderful water-color and pencil illustrations shines a light on the honesty, strength, dedication and heart of Booker T. Washington's love of learning. Booker T. Washington was a slave who built up his own life by teaching himself to read, becoming a teacher in Tuskegee, Alabama, and literally brick-by-brick built a school for others to learn. This wonderful water-color and pencil illustrations shines a light on the honesty, strength, dedication and heart of Booker T. Washington's love of learning.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Booker T Washington is a strong man and I love teaching him to my students. The title alone stands out to me and makes connections to the importance of an education. I like how this book's theme of perseverance is easy to determine. Great book for read aloud. Can't wait to use it. Booker T Washington is a strong man and I love teaching him to my students. The title alone stands out to me and makes connections to the importance of an education. I like how this book's theme of perseverance is easy to determine. Great book for read aloud. Can't wait to use it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ms Threlkeld

    Holy cow, I had no idea how incredible Washington was! Very inspiring.

  10. 5 out of 5

    A.

    A powerful book about the ingenuity and perserverance of Booker T. Washington and the students, staff, and supporters who built the Tuskgeegee Instititute. Beautiful Illustrations.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    What a fuckin baller

  12. 4 out of 5

    wildct2003

    Impressive story

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Mcneil

    The inside cover says it all: “Never give up on your dreams”. This story shares Washington’s passion for learning at every stage of his life. He begged his mother for a book of his own, and somehow she got him an old spelling book. He taught up to 50 students in an old shack with a hole in the roof. An interesting fact that I didn’t know, was Washington researched how to make bricks using the Alabama clay and he and his students built Tuskegee Institute brick by brick! The age range for this boo The inside cover says it all: “Never give up on your dreams”. This story shares Washington’s passion for learning at every stage of his life. He begged his mother for a book of his own, and somehow she got him an old spelling book. He taught up to 50 students in an old shack with a hole in the roof. An interesting fact that I didn’t know, was Washington researched how to make bricks using the Alabama clay and he and his students built Tuskegee Institute brick by brick! The age range for this book is 4-8. I also think it’s appropriate for older kids or pre-teens who want to quickly learn interesting facts about Booker T. Washington.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Addie Lauver

    With Books and Bricks Plot/personal response: With books and Bricks, we learn about Booker and what his life entailed. He was a slave and lugged heavy loads around. But, one day things changed for him. Rather than having to lug loads around one day he had to carry books for the master’s daughter. He wanted to read more than anything but, felt his dream was impossible. Once the war was over he was free. He wanted a book and in some miraculous way his mom got him an old Webster’s spelling book. As With Books and Bricks Plot/personal response: With books and Bricks, we learn about Booker and what his life entailed. He was a slave and lugged heavy loads around. But, one day things changed for him. Rather than having to lug loads around one day he had to carry books for the master’s daughter. He wanted to read more than anything but, felt his dream was impossible. Once the war was over he was free. He wanted a book and in some miraculous way his mom got him an old Webster’s spelling book. As he aged he began to work in the coal mine where he overheard that there was a school for black students. He went, gradated, and came back to his hometown to teach black students. Eventually so many students came that Booker needed a school, and he built one; brick by brick. Finally with help from many he had built his school. This book was an incredible story and I would recommend it to many. It makes one realize how others live their life and overcome their issues. It is a very powerful story of a man’s journey to reach his dreams. Literary Merit: There is a strong theme of never giving up on your dreams. This book gives learners the understanding that not everything they encounter in life will be easy. In fact, there is a lot that will not be easy. However, just because something is hard does not give us the right to give up. “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” This is a branch to another theme of overcoming obstacles. Booker did not have the materials and the money to build the school but, he did his best overcame the obstacles and succeed. Children need to understand this powerful message. Genre: This story is part of my multicultural text set. With Books and Bricks is a biography based on Booker T. Washington’s live. Overcoming his adversities he was able to persevere. He found ways around the difficult times and never gave up on his dreams. He wanted to make the world a better place for the children so they did not have to experience what he went through. Reader Response/Classroom Connection: For a classroom connection I would have a discussion with the class based on how the book made them feel. This story would be geared towards older grades because of the history and basis of how far he really came. This is a great connection to a history lesson when teaching about slavery and how they became free. I would also ask the students one of their dreams and how they think they can reach that goal.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Venus

    Review originally posted on Children's Atheneum Booker T. Washington loved to learn. Born a slave and self-taught, Washington's dream of attending school went further than anything he imagined. After taking on a teaching job in Tuskegee, Alabama, Washington finds many eager students but no school. Working together, Washington and his students built the school--brick by brick. It was a lot of work. Some wanted to give up. But Washington knew how important it was and, as with everything, he made hi Review originally posted on Children's Atheneum Booker T. Washington loved to learn. Born a slave and self-taught, Washington's dream of attending school went further than anything he imagined. After taking on a teaching job in Tuskegee, Alabama, Washington finds many eager students but no school. Working together, Washington and his students built the school--brick by brick. It was a lot of work. Some wanted to give up. But Washington knew how important it was and, as with everything, he made his students work hard to achieve their dreams. You know how there is information that you know you learned in school, but until you actually read something about it, you don't remember that you know it? That is the case with Booker T. Washington. I remember, vaguely, lessons about Washington, his school, his achievements, but if you had asked me who he was before I read this book, I would have been hard pressed to come up with something concrete. Which just goes to show that we are always learning. Very well laid out, With Books and Bricks focuses on Washington's dream and the obstacles that he had to transverse in order to achieve them. The author navigates Washington's nuanced life in a way that is easily accessible to young children, while not getting bogged down in politics and controversy. The watercolor illustrations, while muted, played on the 'brick' color palate, making the images an extension of the title and content.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Title: With Books and Bricks Author: Suzanne Slade Genre: Biography Description: This book details the triumph that Booker T. Washington finally obtained after all the hard work it took to build his school. Although he was given no opportunity to learn anything in school, he took it upon himself to teach himself to read. Once Booker got a job in the mines he started saving money so he could build a school of his own one day. He first started teaching in a run-down shed, but realized he would have t Title: With Books and Bricks Author: Suzanne Slade Genre: Biography Description: This book details the triumph that Booker T. Washington finally obtained after all the hard work it took to build his school. Although he was given no opportunity to learn anything in school, he took it upon himself to teach himself to read. Once Booker got a job in the mines he started saving money so he could build a school of his own one day. He first started teaching in a run-down shed, but realized he would have to get something that would last a long time. With the help of others he cleared out land for enough space to have his school. After all his hard work is dream came true! Criteria of nonfiction: One way this book meets the criteria for nonfiction is because the author has done research on Booker T. W. so she knows her content. I would say the writing style draws the reader in, since I was interested and engaged when I was reading it. I would guess that this book is intended for 3rd or 4th grade so therefore I would say the format and design of the book are fitting to the age group it is intended for. Along with that the pictures do fit the story quite well. Classroom Connection: Since the book went into some detail about how Booker managed to make clay for the bricks that made the school I would have my students research more about this process and maybe show them a video of it so they can see exactly what it looks like. Students could do a bio cube to review to aspects and characteristics of Booker T. Washington

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Booker T. Washington is a well-known historical figure, but the story of how he built the Tuskegee Institute “brick by brick” is not quite as common. This book brings that story to light in a picture book format. Starting life as a slave, Washington experienced the inequities between white children who could attend school and learn to read versus slaves like him who could not. When the Civil War ended, Booker worked hard to educate himself and when an invitation to teach black children in Tuskeg Booker T. Washington is a well-known historical figure, but the story of how he built the Tuskegee Institute “brick by brick” is not quite as common. This book brings that story to light in a picture book format. Starting life as a slave, Washington experienced the inequities between white children who could attend school and learn to read versus slaves like him who could not. When the Civil War ended, Booker worked hard to educate himself and when an invitation to teach black children in Tuskegee, Alabama arose, he accepted. Arriving there to find only a dilapidated shed, Booker borrowed money to buy land and taught himself and his students how to make bricks from clay to build a new school. Digging was hard work and it took many days to reach the clay. Twenty five thousand bricks were made and fired. The kiln broke and all the bricks were ruined. Thousands more bricks were made and fired and the second kiln broke. Everyone wanted to give up except Booker. He sold his pocket watch to buy a third kiln, which lasted and made beautiful bricks. The story is simply written, with watercolor and pencil illustrations. An end note goes into more detail about Washington's life and struggle to bring education to all. This is not an all-encompassing biography; it is a notable story about a lesser-known aspect of his life. I didn’t think this was one of the better picture book biographies I have read. The intended age group, K -2 could be the reason. The writing is very simple and so are the drawings. Nothing special here.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    A true story of perseverance, this book focuses on Booker T. Washington's faithful efforts to build the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. Washington pursued education after slavery ended and gave his all to ensuring other African Americans were educated. The text is well suited to juvenile audiences and the message is one that children need to hear: never give up in pursuit of your dreams. Watercolor artwork adds to the story's drama. Back matter includes: more about Booker, a bibliograp A true story of perseverance, this book focuses on Booker T. Washington's faithful efforts to build the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. Washington pursued education after slavery ended and gave his all to ensuring other African Americans were educated. The text is well suited to juvenile audiences and the message is one that children need to hear: never give up in pursuit of your dreams. Watercolor artwork adds to the story's drama. Back matter includes: more about Booker, a bibliography, and an author's note. Highly recommended for grades 3-6+.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christina Getrost

    Biography of Booker T. Washington that focuses on how he created the Tuskegee Institute by literally making the bricks for the first building--they had shacks and a barn until it was built. Goes from his childhood to the founding of Tuskegee. All quotes are cited and sourced. Beautiful watercolor/pencils illustrations; I liked how the front cover shows the young BTW arriving at school, a dilapidated shack, and on the back cover, the illustration is BTW proudly standing in front of the completed Biography of Booker T. Washington that focuses on how he created the Tuskegee Institute by literally making the bricks for the first building--they had shacks and a barn until it was built. Goes from his childhood to the founding of Tuskegee. All quotes are cited and sourced. Beautiful watercolor/pencils illustrations; I liked how the front cover shows the young BTW arriving at school, a dilapidated shack, and on the back cover, the illustration is BTW proudly standing in front of the completed Institute.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Holly Mueller

    "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed." - Booker T. Washington. Booker T. Washington realized that even though slavery had ended, he could only truly be free with an education. He built a school brick by brick in order to give others a chance, too. Amazing. I enjoyed the watercolor illustrations. "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed." - Booker T. Washington. Booker T. Washington realized that even though slavery had ended, he could only truly be free with an education. He built a school brick by brick in order to give others a chance, too. Amazing. I enjoyed the watercolor illustrations.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This is a simple and straightforward biographical account of the events in Booker T Washington's life that lead to the building of his school in Tuskegee, Alabama. I found the details to be enough to fill the story and yet not so much that it seemed didactic. This would be a beneficial picture book format to add to the biography section of the school library. I'll be getting a copy for my school. This is a simple and straightforward biographical account of the events in Booker T Washington's life that lead to the building of his school in Tuskegee, Alabama. I found the details to be enough to fill the story and yet not so much that it seemed didactic. This would be a beneficial picture book format to add to the biography section of the school library. I'll be getting a copy for my school.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Slaa!!!

    The man on the cover is definitely Barack Obama but luckily I like him too. And my great x4 grandfather was reduced to "folks from a small town in Alabama" who "invited him to teach there" but this is a children's book so I can let that slide. But for anyone who doesn't know the story about all he went through to get his own education and how he and the students literally built this school themselves, this is a great sort of summary. The man on the cover is definitely Barack Obama but luckily I like him too. And my great x4 grandfather was reduced to "folks from a small town in Alabama" who "invited him to teach there" but this is a children's book so I can let that slide. But for anyone who doesn't know the story about all he went through to get his own education and how he and the students literally built this school themselves, this is a great sort of summary.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Earl

    An inspiring account of Booker T. Washington's quest to ensure a proper education was available for everyone. I loved that he never gave up despite numerous setbacks and insurmountable obstacles. Truly, knowledge is power and that gave him strength. An inspiring account of Booker T. Washington's quest to ensure a proper education was available for everyone. I loved that he never gave up despite numerous setbacks and insurmountable obstacles. Truly, knowledge is power and that gave him strength.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Taneka

    It would have been more enjoyable if they had pictures of the kiln that Washington used to make the bricks as well as photos of the first building that was built on Tuskegee campus. Still a good read, but there seemed to be some lacking in its' pages. It would have been more enjoyable if they had pictures of the kiln that Washington used to make the bricks as well as photos of the first building that was built on Tuskegee campus. Still a good read, but there seemed to be some lacking in its' pages.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    This is a wonderful picture book biography about Booker T. Washington. He fought for education his entire life; first to educate himself and then to educate others. This book details how he built his dream school brick by brick until the Tuskegee Institute became want it needed to become.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Liza Nahas

    A really inspiring story, but would be a bit long for younger audiences. I think it would be perfect for a 3rd, 4th, or even 5th grade teacher to read aloud to students. I had heard of Booker T. Washington, but I didn't really know his story. Now I'm even more intrigued! A really inspiring story, but would be a bit long for younger audiences. I think it would be perfect for a 3rd, 4th, or even 5th grade teacher to read aloud to students. I had heard of Booker T. Washington, but I didn't really know his story. Now I'm even more intrigued!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Harvey

    Lovely watercolor illustrations make this story come alive in contrast to the very matter of fact text.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah W

    I enjoyed the persistence demonstrated in this nonfiction picture book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    A.C.E. Bauer

    What a wonderful introduction to an important historical character, focusing on one lesser known aspect of Booker T. Washington's life. The illustrations are evocative and beautiful. Well done! What a wonderful introduction to an important historical character, focusing on one lesser known aspect of Booker T. Washington's life. The illustrations are evocative and beautiful. Well done!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Finney

    What a remarkable story! What a man!! Love the story - the pics good - not sure this will grab students' attention. But awe-inspiring! What a remarkable story! What a man!! Love the story - the pics good - not sure this will grab students' attention. But awe-inspiring!

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