Book Review!!

Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe

Written by Vivian Kirkfield

Illustrated by Alleanna Harris

Published by Little Bee Books (January 28, 2020)

Ages 4-8

Themes: Friendship, overcoming hardships, diversity

From the back of the book:  

Ella and Marilyn: On the outside, you couldn’t find two girls who looked more different. But on the inside, they were alike –  full of hopes and dreams, and plans of what might be.

MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE is not only a rags-to-riches story of how these two iconic women were discovered, but how they helped one another find their voices  at a time when both faced discrimination. It’s a tale of how two of the most iconic women of the 20th century forged a friendship that broke barriers and lasted a lifetime.

My favorite line:  “On the outside,these two stars couldn’t have looked more different. But on the inside, they both understood that sometimes even stars need a little help to shine.” 

This book is not only good for ages 4-8, but it should be read by people of ANY age.  I read this book to both my 7th and 8th graders. We discussed discrimination in the 50’s and 60’s, how women were viewed, friendship and helping others.  The discussions were deep and thoughtful. Books like MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD make it easier for older students to open up. They don’t feel like they are being talked AT. Instead the format of a picture book puts them at ease and they are more likely to respond, even those who are reluctant to find their voice.

Classroom Activity:  I had my students cut out stars (to go with my favorite line!) and write a kind note to someone who is different than they are..  For example, my classroom is close to the structured learning classroom. Several of my students wrote stars to a child with Down Syndrome, telling her that they look forward to seeing her everyday because she gives them high fives as they come to my room. Others wrote to students in another grade, and a few wrote to teachers.  This exercise let them see the light that shines inside others. I hope that they continue to search for that light in everyone they meet.


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