Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress

by Alicia D Williams (Author) April Harrison (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Discover the inspiring story of the first black woman elected to Congress and to run for president in this picture book biography from a Newbery Honor-winning author and a Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe New Talent Award-winning illustrator.

Meet Shirley, a little girl who asks way too many questions! After spending her early years on her grandparents' farm in Barbados, she returns home to Brooklyn and immediately makes herself known. Shirley kicks butt in school; she breaks her mother's curfew; she plays jazz piano instead of classical. And as a young adult, she fights against the injustice she sees around her, against women and black people. Soon she is running for state assembly...and winning in a landslide. Three years later, she is on the campaign trail again, as the first black woman to run for Congress. Her slogan? Fighting Shirley Chisholm--Unbought and Unbossed! Does she win? You bet she does.


A timely and inspiring biography of a great woman who broke barriers and used her voice to elevate those around her.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 3—Young Shirley St. Hill, born in Brooklyn, NY, but spending her formative years in Barbados, exhibited her curiosity and boldness from an early age. She was an outstanding student, graduated college, taught school, and became the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Emphasis is placed on her determination, drive, and persistence. When she was held back in school, she acquired a tutor to catch up and skip a grade. In college, she joined political action groups and questioned why so little was being done in poor neighborhoods. Williams provides an engaging account of Chisolm's life in an accessible manner and Harrison's attractive acrylic illustrations enhance a fine text. There are many books on Chisholm's life for the targeted demographic but this one is a cut above the rest. VERDICT Librarians may feel they have enough books on Chisholm's life but this volume should be considered as more than an additional purchase.—Margaret Nunes, formerly at Gwinnett County P.L., GA 

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with Permission

Alicia D Williams
Alicia D. Williams's debut, the middle-grade novel Genesis Begins Again, received a Newbery Honor and was a Kirkus Prize nominee and a Morris Award finalist. It also won the Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe New Talent Author Award. Alicia is a graduate of the MFA program at Hamline University. An oral storyteller in the African American tradition, she also teaches kindergarten. Learn more at

April Harrison, a renowned folk artist, is the Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe New Talent Award-winning illustrator of Patricia C. McKissack's final picture book, What Is Given from the Heart, which received four starred reviews and which the New York Times Book Review called an exquisite story of generosity. Most recently, she illustrated Nana Akua Goes to School by Patricia Elam Walker. Her work appears in the public collections of Vanderbilt University, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, the Atlanta Housing Authority, and the Erskine University Museum and in many private collections.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Anne Schwartz Books
Publication date
June 20, 2021

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