Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness


Back in the 1890s a huge fair called The Tennessee Centennial Exposition was going to be held in Nashville in 1897.  Doc Key, an African American man, was asked to help plan a building where African Americans could showcase their art culture and inventions.  Who was this man and why was he chosen for this important work?

Doc Key was born in 1833, the son of slaves.  As he grew up, he showed an amazing ability to work with animals.  He could understand them and communicate well with them and most powerfully, he always treated them with kindness.

Doc was a successful entrepreneur and inventor.  Through a few twists of fate he found himself the owner of a spindly-legged, weak colt.  He named the colt Jim Key.  For years Doc and Jim worked together and Jim learned to add, learned his letters, began to understand what was said to him.

Jim Key was an educated horse and he and Doc traveled the country showing people what Jim could do and teaching them what an animal could learn.  Jim Key became a symbol of the Humane Society as Doc and Jim taught the power of kindness to animals.  They became one of the most popular attractions in the country and proved "to millions of people...with kindness, anything is possible."

48 pages        978-1620141489          Ages 7-12

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,


"William "Doc" Key had a special way with animals. Growing up an enslaved child in Tennessee, Doc was sent to plantations around the state to care for sick and wounded animals. When the Civil War ended and Doc was freed, he began to dream of breeding a winning racehorse. But those dreams were dashed when his colt was born weak and sickly. Although many people would have euthanized the colt, Doc nursed him back to health and named him Jim."--from the publisher


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I like step right up because,it was amazing and it surprised me because,I didn't know a horse like Jim could do that.and I really want a horse like Jim.and it also surprised me when he won in first place in the spelling bee contest with the children.and I agree with the people that were surprised watch the concert.
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