The Delany sisters are role models for all children. Teachers, parents and children will enjoy these delightful Delanys who were not only sisters, but best friends also.
“Reach high” were those words for the Delany sisters—Sarah Louise and Annie Elizabeth.
This book, written to children ages 6-12, is a biography of two remarkable African American sisters, Sarah and Elizabeth Delany, who each lived to be over 100 years old. In a day when children need heroes and heroines, this is the story of two.
Based on the bestseller for adults, HavingOur Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years, this is the childhood story of “Sadie” and “Bessie,” who grew up in a large family in the South when life was exceptionally challenging for African Americans. Their parents’ words encouraged them to “reach high” in school and in life. And they did.
Sadie was the first black person to teach high school science in New York City. Bessie earned a doctorate in dental surgery and was the second black woman licensed to practice dentistry in New York City.
Readers will enjoy vignettes of the sisters who, as Bessie said, “were best friends from day one.” There are descriptions of lining up for “Papa’s” inspection every morning after breakfast; sharing their desks and books with former slaves who had not learned to read and write; playing with Bessie’s pet pig, Retta; and gathering in the living room for music, with members of the entire family each playing an instrument and all forming a band.
The book describes difficult times for the Delanys: having to sit at the back of the bus; discovering that some white people didn’t like them because of their skin color; and finding “White” and “Colored” water dippers at their park’s water well.
Children will connect with a part of American history, told well and in a rhythmic style. The sisters were fond of saying that their story “is not black history or women’s history. It’s part of American history.”
Sadie said: “We had a blessed childhood. We had faith in the Lord. We had a lot of love and happiness and we carried that with us all of our lives.” This book describes the warmth of these childhood years that served both sisters well through long, productive lives. Bessie died in 1995 at 104; Sadie died four years later at 109.
The Delany sisters are role models for all children. Teachers, parents and children will enjoy these delightful Delanys who were not only sisters, but best friends also. They never married, lived together all their lives, were deeply spiritual women, and followed their parents’ admonition to “reach high.”
Barbara Massey is minister to children at River Road Church, Baptist, Richmond, Va.
Buy The Delany Sisters Reach High now from Amazon.com.