TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour

The TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour is your opportunity to learn from and build personal connections with extraordinary book creators and their brand-new titles. Included in all Virtual Book Tour posts are original interviews with authors and illustrators, lesson plans, an activity designed for young people, and much more!

Welcome Katheryn Russell-Brown

Katheryn Russell-Brown on She Was the First! The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm

In this post, we feature author Katheryn Russell-Brown, whose award-winning titles include Little Melba and Her Big Trombone. You can hear her speak about the inspiration for her new picture-book biography, She Was the First! The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm, and try her fun “invitation to imagine” activity. You’ll also find other resources to explore. Thanks for joining us, and let us know what you think in the comments below!


Author Katheryn Russell-Brown and the cover of her picture book biography She Was the First! The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm.

She Was the First! The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm

  • Written by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
  • Published by Lee & Low Books
  • Release date: August 4, 2020

Even as a young child growing up in the 1920s, Shirley Chisholm was a leader. As an adult, her small stature and fiery determination often took people by surprise. But they listened. In 1964, Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to the New York State Assembly, and in 1968, the first Black woman elected to Congress. Then in 1972, she became the first Black woman to seek the presidency of the United States. She pushed for laws that helped people who were often ignored.

Shirley Chisholm, a woman of many firsts, was an unforgettable political trailblazer, a candidate of the people and “catalyst of change” who opened the door for women in the political arena, including Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

An interior image from She Was the First! The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm, written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Eric Velasquez. In the scene, a young Shirley Chisholm runs down her Brooklyn street with friends.
An interior image from She Was the First! The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm, written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Eric Velasquez. In the scene, a young Shirley Chisholm arrives at her grandmother's house in Barbados.

Explore She Was the First! The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm

Listen to Katheryn Russell-Brown talking with TeachingBooks about creating She Was the First! The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm. You can click the player below or experience the recording on TeachingBooks, where you can read along as you listen, and also translate the text to another language.


Invitation to Imagine

TeachingBooks asks each author or illustrator on our Virtual Book Tour to share a writing prompt, a drawing exercise, or just an interesting question to spark curiosity and creativity. Enjoy the following activity contributed by Katheryn Russell-Brown.

Imagination Activity with Katheryn Russell-Brown

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm ran for president of the United States. If you ran for president, what would do?


Finish This Sentence . . . with Katheryn Russell-Brown

As part of our Virtual Book Tour, TeachingBooks asks authors and illustrators to complete short sentence prompts. Enjoy Katheryn Russell-Brown’s response.

“My favorite books as a child were . . .”

My favorite books as a child were James and the Giant Peach, Corduroy, and Stuart Little.

“Where I work is . . .”

I write nonfiction children’s book, so that means I do a lot of reading and writing. I try to learn as much as I can about my main character. I read and write in different places, at my desk or in one of my big comfy chairs at home.

Comfortable reading chairs in author Katheryn Russell-Brown's home.

Thank you!

To wrap up this Virtual Book Tour, we thank Katheryn Russell-Brown for signing a book for all of us!

The title page of She Was the First! The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm, signed by the author Katheryn Russell-Brown.

More Connections to Katheryn Russell-Brown and She Was the First! The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm


Explore all of the titles featured in the TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour: one link with author interviews, lesson plans, activities, and more!

All text and images are courtesy of Katheryn Russell-Brown, Eric Velasquez, and Lee & Low Books and may not be used without expressed written consent.

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