Ashley Bryan

Words to My Life's Song

Illustrated by Ashley Bryan / Photographer Bill McGuinness

About The Book

Ashley's autobiography is full of art, photographs, and the poignant never-say-never tale of his rich life, a life that has always included drawing and painting. Even as a boy growing up during the Depression, he painted -- finding cast off objects to turn into books and kites and toy and art. Even as a solder in the segregated Army on the beaches of Normandy, he sketched -- keeping charcoal crayons and paper in his gasmask to draw with during lulls. Even as a talented, visionary art student who was accepted and then turned away from college upon arrival, the school telling Ashley that to give a scholarship to an African American student would be a waste, he painted -- continuing to create art when he could have been discouraged, continuing to polish his talents when his spirit should have been beaten. Ashley went on to become a Hans Christian Anderson Award nominee, a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer, and a multiple Coretta Scott King award winner. As you might imagine, his story is powerful, bursting with his creative energy, and a testament to believing in oneself. It's a book every child in America should have access to and it does what the very best autobiographies do; it inspires!

About The Author

Photo Credit:

Ashley Bryan grew up to the sound of his mother singing from morning to night, and he has shared the joy of song with children ever since. A beloved illustrator, he was recently named a Newbery Honoree for his picture book, Freedom Over Me. He has also been the recipient of the Coretta Scott King—Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award; the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award; has been a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer; a Coretta Scott King Award winner; and the recipient of countless other awards and recognitions. His books include Freedom Over MeSail AwayBeautiful BlackbirdBeat the Story-Drum, Pum PumLet It ShineAshley Bryan’s Book of Puppets; and What a Wonderful World. He lives in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine.

About The Illustrator

Photo Credit:

Ashley Bryan grew up to the sound of his mother singing from morning to night, and he has shared the joy of song with children ever since. A beloved illustrator, he was recently named a Newbery Honoree for his picture book, Freedom Over Me. He has also been the recipient of the Coretta Scott King—Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award; the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award; has been a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer; a Coretta Scott King Award winner; and the recipient of countless other awards and recognitions. His books include Freedom Over MeSail AwayBeautiful BlackbirdBeat the Story-Drum, Pum PumLet It ShineAshley Bryan’s Book of Puppets; and What a Wonderful World. He lives in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine.

Awards and Honors

  • ALA Notable Children's Books
  • ILA Teachers' Choices
  • CCBC Choices (Cooperative Children's Book Council)
  • NYPL 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
  • Maine Student Book Award Master List
  • NCTE Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts
  • ILA Notable Books for a Global Society
  • Parents' Choice Gold Award Winner
  • The Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration
  • Norman A. Sugarman Children's Biography Honor Award
  • Bank Street Best Books of the Year - with Outstanding Merit
  • TX Triple Crown Lamplighter Nominee
  • Cleveland Public Library Celebrate With Books Selection

Resources and Downloads

Common Core Suggestion

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Ashley Bryan