Picture Books

Sing a Song

How Lift Every Voice & Sing Inspired Generations

“Lyons delivers the history of a song that has inspired generations of African-Americans to persist and resist in the face of racism and systemic oppression. . . . A heartfelt history of a historic anthem.”–Publishers Weekly

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us.
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.

In Jacksonville, Florida, two brothers, one of them the principal of a segregated, all-black school, wrote the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” so his students could sing it for a tribute to Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in 1900. From that moment on, the song has provided inspiration and solace for generations of Black families. Mothers and fathers passed it on to their children who sang it to their children and grandchildren. Known as the Black National Anthem, it has been sung during major moments of the Civil Rights Movement and at family gatherings and college graduations.

Inspired by this song’s enduring significance, Kelly Starling Lyons and Keith Mallett tell a story about the generations of families who gained hope and strength from the song’s inspiring words.

Praise for Sing a Song:

“Tracing the history of Black Americans since 1900 through five generations of one family, this creative book also connects events and cultural shifts with particular lines in the song, underscoring their relevance during certain times. . . . With clarity and warmth, the illustrations sensitively capture the changing characters, emotions, and eras as time passes. . . . Well-structured, original story. . . . Dovetailing nicely with the books that introduce the song itself, this moving picture book celebrates it as a ‘symbol of faith, brilliance, resistance, and resilience.’” Booklist, starred review

  • A Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice
  • A Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
  • Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year Selection
  • An ALSC Notable Children’s Book
  • BCALA and ALSC Social Justice Reading List

Meet-the-Author of Sing a Song (audio clip of me talking about the book.) TeachingBooks Book Reading | Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations

Educator Guide

Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice & Sing Inspired Generations Study Guide & Lesson Plans

Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice & Sing Inspired Generations Activity Guide

Book Trailer

Celebrate the 120th anniversary of the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” with SING A SONG written by Kelly Starling Lyons and illustrated by Keith Mallett, a stirring picture book about the Black National Anthem and how it inspired five generations of a family.

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