Parent-Child Book Pairings: Black Fashion Design⁠er Ann Lowe

Posted February 19, 2023 by Richetta in Book Reviews, Children's Books / 0 Comments

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Have you ever wanted to engage in reading time with your child where you both read something about the same topic but in a book that on each of your own levels? This week I have put together a book pairing based on the life of Black Fashion Designer Ann Lowe.

Parent-Child Book Pairings are opportunities for a parent and child to read about the same topic or person together. Each book pairing has one for the adult to read by themselves and one book for the child to either read independently or with the parent. Then after or during the reading, families can discuss their thoughts, reactions and ideas about the topic. It’s a family literacy celebration!⁠


Subject: African American Fashion Designer Ann Lowe⁠
Parent Book: By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley⁠
Child Book: Only the Best: The Exceptional life and Fashion of Ann Lowe by Kate Messier and Margaret E. Powell with illustrations by Erin K. Robinson

Discussion Questions: ⁠

  • What do we do when something unexpected happens that is hard for us to deal with? ⁠
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?⁠
  • What did you want to be when you were your child’s age? ⁠
  • Has there ever been a time when you worked on something and did a good job, but you didn’t get any credit for it?⁠

Synopsis for By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley⁠

The incredible untold story of how Ann Lowe, a Black woman and granddaughter of slaves, rose above personal struggles and racial prejudice to design and create one of America’s most famous wedding dresses of all time for Jackie Kennedy.

1953, New York City

Less than a week before the society wedding of the year where Jacqueline Bouvier will marry John F. Kennedy, a pipe bursts at Ann Lowe’s dress shop and ruins eleven dresses, including the expensive wedding dress, a dress that will be judged by thousands. A Black designer who has fought every step of the way, Ann knows this is only one struggle after a lifetime of them. She and her seamstresses will find the way to re-create the dresses. It may take all day and all night for the next week to accomplish the task, but they will do it.

1918, Tampa

Raised in Jim Crow Alabama, Ann learned the art of sewing from her mother and her grandmother, a former slave, who are the most talented seamstresses in the state. After Ann elopes at twelve with an older man who soon proves himself to be an abusive alcoholic, her dreams of becoming a celebrated designer seem to be put on hold. But then a wealthy Tampa socialite sees Ann’s talent and offers her an amazing opportunity—the chance to sew and design clothing for Florida’s society elite. Taking her young son in the middle of the night, Ann escapes her husband and embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.

Based on the true story of one of the most famous designers of the twenties through the sixties who has since been unjustly forgotten, By Her Own Design is an unforgettable novel of determination despite countless obstacles and a triumph celebrated by the world.

Synopsis for Only the Best The Exceptional life and Fashion of Ann Lowe by Kate Messier and Margaret E. Powell with illustrations by Erin K. Robinson

Award-winning author Kate Messner, costume historian Margaret E. Powell, and fashion designer and illustrator Erin Robinson tell the powerful story of the ground-breaking Ann Lowe, who grew up in a small Alabama dress shop and became the first nationally-known African American fashion designer. Sought after by millionaires and movie stars, her designs walked the red carpet and graced the wedding of Senator John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier.

At a time when the world around her thought African Americans deserved no more than second-class treatment, Ann expected no less than very best for herself.

THE FIRST, FAMED BLACK FASHION DESIGNER: Although she faced many hardships, Ann’s spirit, talent, and belief in herself always shone through. This story provides an empowering, real-life role model for young girls—and especially Black girls—to relate to and see themselves in, at an age when building self-confidence is more important than ever.

ENCOURAGES CREATIVITY AND PERSERVERENCE: Full of interesting details about how Ann came up with her designs, and how she always forged ahead in spite of setbacks, this true story will captivate aspiring artists and young creative thinkers alike.

SURE OF HER OWN WORTH: This book makes a perfect gift for anyone looking to celebrate, empower, and inspire the women in their lives—whether daughters, granddaughters, nieces, cousins, or friends. Ann Lowe is a testament to the power of knowing we’re both capable of and deserve ONLY THE BEST!

BEAUTIFUL, IMMERSIVE PROSE: Wonderful, vivacious writing by award-winning author Kate Messner and expert historian Margaret E. Powell brings Ann’s pride in herself and her work to life in rich detail.

Looking For More Children’s Books To Celebrate Black History?

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