NewSouth Books made a promise to Alabama’s beloved storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham. We promised we would do everything we could to make book lovers and librarians and bookstores and educators aware that her illustrated children’s book, Ernest’s Gift, was back in print. This charming and poignant volume, for readers ages 6-10, tells a very special Alabama story. And we want you to know that this delightful book is once again available for purchase.
Harper Lee calls Ernest’s Gift “a superb story!” And Fannie Flagg praises it as a “simple, yet powerful tale of a young Southern boy whose love for books guided him through difficult times of rejection into a life of love and forgiveness.” Mrs. Windham herself suggests that Ernest’s Gift is a small but important slice of local history.
Published on the occasion of the Selma-Dallas Public Library’s 100th anniversary, the book is based on a true story, about a man whose lifelong love of books and reading helps overcome the hurt of a childhood humiliation. As a child in the 1930s, Ernest Dawson loved books but was denied use of the library in segregated Selma. He grew up and became a teacher, and when he passed, according to the terms of his will, a monetary gift was made to the Selma library for its children’s wing—this to ensure that children of all races had a place where they could go to read and learn.
Kathryn Tucker Windham is one of America’s best-loved storytellers. Now in her 90s, she began writing as one of the first women daily newspaper reporters in Alabama. After a successful career as a journalist, she turned to writing books of ghost stories and folklore. She remains one of the most popular performers at national storytelling festivals and has been a featured commentator on National Public Radio and Alabama Public Radio.