The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse, adapted for audio, chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson.

A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders.
But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived.

And the people planted dreams and hope,
willed themselves to keep
living, living.
And the people learned new words
for love
for friend
for family

for joy
for grow
for home.
With powerful verse and striking illustrations by Nikkolas Smith, Born on the Water provides a pathway for readers of all ages to reflect on the origins of American identity.
#1 New York Times Bestseller!
An Amazon Best of the Year 2021
A Time Magazine Best Children’s Books of 2021
A NPR Best Books of the Year 2021
A School Library Journal Best Books of 2021
A NYPL Best Books 2021
A Chicago Public Library Best Books 2021

A Barnes & Noble Best Picture Book of 2021
A Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of 2021
A News & Observer Best Books of 2021
An Amazon Best Book of the Month
A New York Public Library Best Book of 2021
A Barnes & Noble Book of the Year finalist
A 2022 Irma S. Black Award Contender
A 2022 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Winner
A 2022 NCTE/CLA Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts Award Winner
A 2022 SDUSMP Phillis Wheatley Book Award in the Children's (Ages 0-17) Non-fiction Category
A 2022 AAMBC Literary Award Nominee


"A gift to Black Americans and everyone else who reads it." ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Black history is not merely a story of slavery and suffering but one of perseverance and hope." ―Publisher's Weekly, starred review

"A stunning work, providing a glimpse into the history of the Black experience before and after the slave trade; the poetic language and breathtaking artwork will have a lasting effect on readers." ―School Library Journal, starred review

"Written in lovely and loving verse, with dynamic, expressive, and expansive illustrations that convey the emotional journey of a resilient people, this book provides a moving, informative answer to an essential question." ―Horn Book, starred review