Elise Bellin, MLIS is the IRC Librarian and this book review is part of an ongoing series that focuses on a range of books within the IRC collection as a service to the community.

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

by Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X, illustrated by AG Ford, © 2013 – ISBN: 9781442412163

Malcolm X was a pivotal personality in the Civil Rights movement and it was invariably the lessons learned early in life that set him up to become the charismatic, if controversial, speaker and activist he would later become. To that end, his daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, wrote what can only be considered a tribute to his early years and the parents that loved him.

Born Malcolm Little, Malcolm grew up not without his share of violence and racism. At the age of four, his family home in Omaha, Nebraska, was burned down by individuals unsympathetic to the cause of equality. At the age of six, his father died, more than likely lynched by the Ku Klux Klan, or other similarly motivated group, after which at the age of twelve, due to his mother’s grief-induced loss of parental custody, Malcolm and his six siblings were separated and had to grow up as wards of the state. With so much heartache there is little wonder that he grew to be such a passionate and controversial public figure before returning to a more moderate and mainstream path in his fight for equality.

Shabazz, however, steers clear of the more controversial aspects of who Malcolm X was and instead focuses on the love and life Malcolm Little lived as a child, how it shaped him into who he would become, and how it would eventually lead him back toward that middle ground. She touches on the violence and hatred in his life in glossing terms, mentioning the KKK and racism only as it pertained to the death of his father, showing a ragged pain that travels generations, while steering clear of actual violence and bloodshed.

The eventual end in seventh grade becoming president of an all-white classroom seems to hint at the promise of a brighter tomorrow. Illustration is done in detailed oil paintings that show a true depth of emotion regardless of the moment. Recommended for grades 1-4.

Founded in 2011, the Islamic Resource Library (IRC) is the first Islamic library in Wisconsin. The IRC aims to provide resources to educators, students, health professionals, interfaith groups, and any members of the Milwaukee community that want an accurate understanding of the Islamic faith, its practices, and its people.

AG Ford