Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre. Written by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper.

Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper provide a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation’s history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa’s Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community.

News of what happened was largely suppressed, and no official investigation occurred for seventy-five years. This picture book sensitively introduces young readers to this tragedy and concludes with a call for a better future.

  • Interest Level Grades 3-6
  • Reading Level Grade 4

  • A Caldecott Honor Book
  • Recipient of a Sibert Honor
  • Winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards for Author and Illustrator
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Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre

Winner of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards for Author and Illustrator A Caldecott Honor Book A Sibert Honor Book Longlisted for the National Book Award A Kirkus Prize Finalist A Boston… Read More →

  • Lexile: 1100
  • ATOS: 5.8
  • Dewey: 976.6/8600496073
  • Copyright: 2021

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Praise for Unspeakable

“This moving account sheds light on shameful events long suppressed or ignored. All collections should consider this title’s value in providing historical context to current conversations about racism and America’s ongoing legacy of white supremacy.”
—School Library Journal
“A somber, well-executed addition to the history as the incident approaches its 100th anniversary.”
—Kirkus Reviews
“The portraits of Black residents are particularly moving, seeming to break the fourth wall to implore the reader to remember their story.”
—The Horn Book Magazine
“Ideal for classroom libraries and a deeper study of American history, this title is a must-have for those seeking the painful and complete truth.”
“By focusing not just on the attack, but also on the positive achievements of the Black business owners… the book succeeds in teaching the tragedy of the Tulsa Race Massacre and the legacy of Black Wall Street.”
—Publishers Weekly
Unspeakable deserves to be read by every student of American history.”

Press for Unspeakable

Seven Impossible Things Blog

Head to the Seven Impossible Things blog to check out their post “Speaking the Unspeakable.” “In a consistently thoughtful and age-approrpriate way,” the blog notes, “Weatherford writes with tenderness and reverence… as well as with a directness that befits a story of injustice.” The post also features several spreads from the book.
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School Library Journal

Read Betsy Bird’s interview with Unspeakable author Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrator Floyd Cooper on School Library Journal. They discuss their personal connections to the book, research processes, and more.
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The New York Times

The New York Times featured Unspeakable in the article “Behind the Jim Crow Curtain.” The article calls the book “sensitively written,” and “beautifully illustrated,” and notes that it “restore[s] this often-elided history while explaining the ensuing tragedy in a manner appropriate for children.”
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NPR’s Code Switch Podcast

NPR’s Code Switch podcast included Unspeakable in a list of books about the event.
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  • Teaching Guide for Grades 3-8

    Developed by Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul—educator, author, co-founder of the Institute for Racial Equity in Literacy, and director of diversity and equity at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University.
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Author Carole Boston Weatherford Describes Her New Book Unspeakable

Floyd Cooper Reads from Unspeakable and Shares His Family Connection

Remembering Floyd Cooper

Updated 2023-07-10 09:26:01 -0700