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Aretha Franklin

In this video, read along with the book Little People, Big Dreams: Aretha Franklin. This is a great story for kids of all ages, however, the reading level of this book is grades 1-2. This book is loved by all who read it. It is a great way to celebrate Women’s History Month in the classroom, but of course, can be read any time of the year.


If there was someone in Detroit who was born to sing it was little Aretha. Her mother was a gospel singer and her father was a preacher who believed that music could move not just people’s hearts but the world.

Her mom left when Aretha was very little, but she never felt alone. Home was always filled with musicians and she learned to play the piano just by listening to them.

She started singing in the gospel choir at the church where her father was a minister. Aretha’s voice was so powerful and as smooth as silk. Listening to her, the whole congregation felt that tomorrow would be a brighter day.

Convinced of her talent, Aretha’s father took her on tour, and together they went from church to church. Wherever Aretha performed she did it with such grace that people would cry with joy.

But, even though she loved gospel music, Aretha dreamed that her voice could be heard outside the church, in people’s homes. So when a record company offered her a contract, she didn’t have to think about it twice.

Before long, Aretha’s songs were climbing the charts. There was something magical in her voice that moved people’s hearts and bodies. Much like her most popular song…

It was called “Respect,” and it was a song written by Otis redding that sounded brand new in Aretha’s voice. Suddenly, the words of a tired working man became an anthem for African-American women
demanding equal respect.

One of Aretha’s friends was Martin Luther King Jr., the great civil rights leader. She stood next to him, challenging people to raise their voices against racism. When he died, she sang the most beautiful
song in his honor: “Precious Lord.”

Aretha started writing her own songs and producing them, too. she went from gospel to jazz, doo-wop and pop, to rhythm and blues…singing every song from the bottom of her heart.

She recorded hundreds of great hits and she loved them all. Aretha used a secret recipe when writing
her songs: They had to talk about everyday ups and downs. That’s what soul was all about!

It took Aretha 30 long years to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; she was the first woman in history to be on the list! Aretha was the Queen of Soul and a trailblazer for many other female artists.

But her greatest honor was singing at the inauguration of the first African-American president of the United States. Aretha was voicing one of the most important moments in history!

And no-one has ever been able to sing a song quite like Aretha. The little girl who asked for equality
and won the R-E-S-P-E-C-T of millions… the greatest soul singer of all time.

Little People-Big Dreams, Aretha Franklin, African American, Biography, Read Aloud, Civil Rights, Civil Rights Activist