New Shoes

New Shoes
Written by Susan Lynn Meyer, Illustrated by Eric Velasquez

In this historical fiction picture book, Ella Mae and her cousin Charlotte, both African American, start their own shoe store when they learn that they cannot try on shoes at the shoe store

Primary Source Pairing:
The primary source image above, titled Shoe store catering to Negroes. Chicago, Illinois, is from a Farm Security Administration collection on the Library of Congress website. The image was taken in April of 1941. According to the Author’s Note, the story of Ella Mae in New Shoes takes place in the south in the 1950’s. This opens a greater discussion about the north and south and how segregation norms and laws varied between the two regions.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What people and objects are shown?
  • Why do you think this image was made?
  • What’s happening in the image?
  • What can you learn from examining this image?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Shoe store catering to Negroes. Chicago, Illinois image: Library of Congress website