Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X

Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X

Ilyasah Shabazz
Illustrator:  Ag Ford 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2014   ISBN: 978-1442412163

Malcolm Little was born in Omaha, Nebraska and he was one of seven children. His parents taught all their children about “faith in God and self-love,” and instilled in them the importance of “honesty and integrity, and of brotherhood and equality.” His parents both believed that all humans are created equal, and they did what they could to support the rights of everyone to have “freedom and justice” in their lives.

   Unfortunately, not everyone believed that African Americans and White Americans were equal, and one night the Little home was set alight by people who did not want the African-American family living in their community. The house burned to the ground and Malcom and his siblings saw that there is a dark side in this world.

   The Little family began anew in Lansing, Michigan, living in a house that Malcolm’s father built with his own two hands. Malcom and his brothers and sisters grew up listening to their father preaching about dignity, self-respect, and hope, and to their mother talking about philosophy, math, poetry, and the miracles of nature. She also taught them a little of the five languages that she knew how to speak. Louise Little believed that “knowledge acquired today would transform into wisdom tomorrow.”

   One day the darkness of racism and intolerance broke into this beautiful world full of learning and acceptance, and Malcolm’s father was killed. Louise did her best to provide for her large family, but in the end she was deemed unfit to raise them and they became wards of the state. Luckily Earl and Louise Little’s friends were happy to take the children into their homes.

   Being separated from his siblings and his beloved mother broke Malcom’s heart and he became disobedient and difficult. He was sent to a new school where, it was hoped, he would find his path once more.

   This book is a heartfelt tribute not to just to Malcolm X. It is also a tribute to his parents who taught him to be a compassionate person who stood for equality and freedom, no matter what the cost. They also taught him to believe in himself, and thus gave him the tools he needed to survive the many trials that he encountered later in life. The author, Malcolm X’s daughter, shows to great effect what her father’s childhood was like, and helps us to see how his childhood years prepared him for what was to come.