Hey, Charleston! The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band

Hey, Charleston!: The True Story of the Jenkins Orphanage Band, written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Colin Bootman, is a nominee for the 2015-2016 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.

An ideal book for studies of jazz music and South Carolina history, Hey, Charleston! introduces readers to Reverend Daniel Joseph Jenkins and his work with orphans in and around Charleston.

Reverend Jenkins saw that these children needed care and education, and, knowing that he would need money to meet those needs, he devised a plan to create the Jenkins Orphanage Band. He asked the community to donate instruments that had been gathering dust since the Civil War, and he and his boys polished and repaired them. Local musicians came in to give lessons, and the band was born.

The Jenkins Orphanage Band traveled through the U.S. (and even to England) raising money to care for even more kids. And they did. They also spread joy through music and did their part in creating what we know as ragtime and jazz music.

Hey, Charleston! is an important book for those interested in books on overcoming adversity. It demonstrates how hard work, kindness, and love for one another can create something truly great even in tough circumstances. I also think this book ties into music and South Carolina history standards at both the elementary and middle school levels. It is a powerful picture book that, at the very least, belongs in every South Carolina library.


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