With Open Hands

A Story about Biddy Mason

From the Series Creative Minds Biographies

  • Interest Level: Grade 4 - Grade 8
  • Reading Level: Grade 5

Born a slave in Georgia in 1818, Bridget “Biddy” Mason learned to survive in a harsh world. Taken from her parents as a young child, Biddy grew up to be self-reliant and hard working. When she and her children finally found freedom in California in 1855, she turned her nursing skills into a successful career as a midwife. Even after she became a wealthy landowner in Los Angeles, Biddy never forgot her basic philosophy of sharing with others: “The open hand is blessed,” she always said, “for it gives in abundance, even as it receives.”

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Interest Level Grade 4 - Grade 8
Reading Level Grade 5
Category Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diverse Books: Social Class, Diverse Books: Social Justice, Diversity
Copyright 1999
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Millbrook Press ™
Language English
Number of Pages 64
Publication Date 2011-08-01
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS JNF007020, JNF007050, JNF007120
Dewey 973'.0496073'0092
Graphics 1-color illustrations
Dimensions 6 x 8.5
Guided Reading Level R
ATOS Reading Level 5.7
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 4380
Accelerated Reader® Points 1.0
Features Afterword, Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Index, Reviewed, Table of contents, and Teaching Guides

Author: Jeri Chase Ferris

JERI CHASE FERRIS is the award-winning author of eleven Lerner biographies for children and young adults. She specializes in biographies of women and minorities―people who have done great and important deeds, but have been overlooked in history―for example: Go Free or Die: A Story about Harriet Tubman, Demanding Justice: A Story about Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Arctic Explorer: A Story about Matthew Henson, What Are You Figuring Now?: A Story about Benjamin Banneker, and With Open Hands: A Story about Biddy Mason.Jeri retired from a 30-year teaching career in order to write full time and travels all over the United States and the world to research and collect information on her subjects. In addition to writing, she is a frequent speaker at schools and conferences, bringing history to life through the lives of these remarkable women and men. Her current novel is not a biography but is historical fiction, a survival story set in WWII Russia (USSR).

Illustrator: Ralph L. Ramstad

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!

Creative Minds Biographies

Meet some of the world’s most creative minds! Written in story format, these episodic biographies give clear, straightforward accounts of historical figures’ lives. Each true story is accompanied by black-and-white illustrations. View available downloads →


  • California Collection, Winner, 1999



“This hearty tale is accompanied by many gentle line drawings.”

School Library Journal

“. . .informative and straightforward. An inspirational book about a woman usually overlooked in biographies for this age group.”
School Library Journal