Picture Books

Ellen’s Broom

Picture book. By Kelly Starling Lyons. 2012. 32 pages.
Story about a young girl during Reconstruction whose parents are finally able to have a legal marriage while honoring a family wedding tradition.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876
Themes: African American, Reconstruction

Ellen's BroomA young girl learns a new meaning for freedom during the time of Reconstruction.

Ellen always knew the broom resting above the hearth was special. Before it was legal for her mother and father to officially be married, the broom was what made them a family anyway. But now all people who were formerly enslaved and had already been married in their hearts could register as lawful husband and wife.

When Ellen and her family make the long trip to the courthouse dressed in their best, she brings the broom her parents had jumped so many years before. Even though freedom has come, Ellen knows the old traditions are important too. After Mama and Papa’s names are recorded in the register, Ellen nearly bursts with pride as her parents jump the broom once again.

The books is brought to life in Daniel Minter’s rich and eye-catching block print illustrations. [Publisher’s description.]

ISBN: 9780399250033 | Penguin Random House


Learn more in the Zinn Education Project national report, “Erasing the Black Freedom Struggle: How State Standards Fail to Teach the Truth About Reconstruction,” and find teaching resources on Reconstruction below.