Lift as You Climb (Hardcover)

The Story of Ella Baker

By Patricia Hruby Powell, R. Gregory Christie (Illustrator)

Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781534406230, 48pp.

Publication Date: June 9, 2020

List Price: 17.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Learn about the civil rights activist Ella Baker in this informative, lyrical picture book from Sibert Honor winner Patricia Hruby Powell and Caldecott Honor winner R. Gregory Christie.

“What do you hope to accomplish?” asked Ella Baker’s granddaddy when she was still a child.
Her mother provided the answer: “Lift as you climb.”

Long before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, Ella Baker worked to lift others up by fighting racial injustice and empowering poor African Americans to stand up for their rights. Her dedication and grassroots work in many communities made her a valuable ally for leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and she has been ranked as one of the most influential women in the civil rights movement. In the 1960s she worked to register voters and organize sit-ins, and she became a teacher and mentor to many young activists. For Ella, the spotlight wasn’t as important as asking the people around her: “What do you hope to accomplish?”

About the Author

Patricia Hruby Powell is the author of Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, which earned five starred reviews, won a Robert F. Sibert Nonfiction Honor, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, Boston Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Honor, Parent’s Choice Gold for Poetry, Ragazzi Bologna International Nonfiction Honor, and Best Book Recognition from The Wall Street JournalHuffington Post, ALA Notable, and NCTE. She is also the author of the YA documentary novel Loving Vs. Virginia, which was an Indie Next Pick; Struttin’ With Some Barbecue, a middle grade biography of Lil Hardin Armstrong and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book; and Lift as You Climb, a picture book biography of Ella Baker. Visit her at

R. Gregory Christie received a Caldecott Honor for his illustrations in Freedom in Congo Square, written by Carole Boston Weatherford. He is a three-time recipient of The New York Times’s 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of the Year Award, a six-time recipient of the Coretta Scott King Honor Award in Illustration, and a winner of the Boston Globe­–Horn Book Award, the NAACP’s Image Award, and the Once Upon a World Children’s Book Award from the Museum of Tolerance. Visit Mr. Christie’s website at