What I Had Was Singing

The Story of Marian Anderson

From the Series Trailblazer Biographies

  • Interest Level: Grade 5 - Grade 9
  • Reading Level: Grade 6

Even as a little child, Marian Anderson knew what she wanted to do. More than anything in the world, she wanted to sing. From the age of six, Marian amazed her listeners with the beauty of her voice. All through her long life, what Marian Anderson had was a gift for singing. But she had other gifts as well. When she faced discrimination, Marian gave us all the gift of her example. At a time when fear and hatred divided the nation, Marian showed dignity and grace. And at a time in America when racial prejudice denied black Americans a place in classical music, Marian forged a career as the greatest contralto of her time. Marian was famous around the world long before the great Civil Rights struggles of the 1950s. And though she never spoke publicly against discrimination, her action and her beautiful voice spoke louder than words.

Format Your Price Add
Interest Level Grade 5 - Grade 9
Reading Level Grade 6
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Twenty-First Century Books ™
Language English
Publication Date 2009-08-01
Reading Counts! Level 6.8
BISACS JNF007040, JNF007120, JNF007110
Dewey 782.1'092
Graphics 1-color illustrations
Lexile 970
Guided Reading Level V
ATOS Reading Level 6.5
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 15541
Accelerated Reader® Points 2.0
Features Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Endnote, Index, Reviewed, Source notes, Table of contents, Teaching Guides, and Websites

Author: Jeri Ferris

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

Trailblazer Biographies

Struggling to overcome adversity to accomplish their goals, the men and women featured in these inspiring biographies blazed a trail through history. Fulfills sixth grade social sciences, social studies, and history curriculum needs. View available downloads →


  • Carter G. Woodson Book Award, Winner, 1994
  • PLA Top Titles for Adult New Readers, Winner, 1994
  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, Winner, 1994



“. . .simply written biography presents the basic facts and humanizing details. . .”

Kirkus Reviews

“. . .eloquently portrayed. . . With many anecdotes from the singer’s own recollections, meticulously researched, and told in moving but unsentimental prose. . .”
Kirkus Reviews

The Horn Book Guide

“triumphant portrait,”
The Horn Book Guide