As a young boy born into slavery in Virginia, Alec Turner was forbidden to learn to read. Naturally he was frightened when Zephie, his owner's granddaughter, first offered to teach him, but she told him that if he learned to read, he could become a free man. As Alec mastered the alphabet from a small primer, Zephie lit in him a spark of hope, which became a flame.
Alec’s Primer is based on the true story of Alec Turner (1845-1923), who learned to read and, eventually, just as Zephie predicted, became a free man. Traveling to Vermont where he established his home and became a landowner, Alec kept his cherished primer with him throughout his life. Years later, Alec's daughter Daisy told his dramatic tale of defiance and endurance to the Vermont Folklife Center. Mildred Pitts Walter and Larry Johnson have transformed Alec’s powerful story into an engrossing picture book that affords young readers an authentic lens through which to view history.
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