Civil Rights, History, Uncategorized

Climbing Lincoln’s Steps: The African American Journey By Suzanne Slade

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Back of Book: This empowering and emotionally driven story showcases significant moments in African American history that tie back to the Lincoln Memorial by introducing iconic civil rights activists as well as exploring President Abraham Lincoln’s role in abolishing slavery. This book highlights the hardships and triumphs faced while fighting for racial equality in America.
My Review:
I remember walking up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial. There was something unexplainable about the feeling that overcomes you as you take each stair. The history that has been made in that place is astounding. I loved each topic that was discussed in this story. Each page gives readers detailed information about different people who helped the Civil Rights Movement. This book celebrates the changes that have happened over the years. This book inspires readers to make a difference while still remembering those who have already walked the path before us. I plan on adding this book to my Civil Rights reading lit.
Ages 6 and up
32 Pages

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Civil Rights

Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song Gary Golio

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Back of Book:
The audience was completely silent the first time Billie Holiday performed a song called “Strange Fruit.” In the 1930s, Billie was known as a performer of jazz and blues music, but this song wasn’t either of those things. It was a song about injustice, and it would change her life forever.
My Review:
I love finding stories that I can use to teach my students about the amazing Jazz era. It can be hard to explain to students why Jazz was more than music. It was a movement. Strange Fruit is among the most haunting picture books I have ever read. It touches on a time period that is hard to talk, and teach about. Billie Holiday was a woman who had a hard life. Even then, she remained strong and enlightened the world on a topic that no one wanted to hear about. Strange Fruit teaches readers about lynching, without going into too much detail. The illustrations are stunning and show readers the beauty and strength of Billie Holiday. Although this is a picture book, I can see it being used in older grades to teach about the Jazz Era. I highly recommend this book.
Ages 9 and up
40 Pages

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Civil Rights

Back of the Bus By Aaron Reynolds

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Back of Book:
A boy and his mother are riding the bus in Montgomery, Alabama like any other day—way in the back of the bus. The boy passes time by watching his marble roll up and down the aisle with the motion of the bus…

Until a big commotion breaks out from way up front.
My Review:
This book gives a new and different perspective of the day that Rosa Parks changed history. It is told through the eyes of a little boy who was sitting in the back of the bus. Told in a first-person narrative, the boy on the bus shares his perspective on Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat. This is a great story to teach children perspective and different points of view. The illustrations are beautiful and show readers what happened that day all through the eyes of the little boy. This is a perfect addition to any Civil Rights, or Black History Month unit.
Ages 6 and up
32 Pages

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Civil Rights

Martin’s Dream Day By Kitty Kelley

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Back of Book:
Martin Luther King Jr. was nervous.

Standing at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, he was about to address 250,000 people with what would become known as his “I Have a Dream Speech”—the most famous speech of his life.

This day—August 28, 1963—was a momentous day in the Civil Rights Movement. It was the culmination of years spent leading marches, sit-ins, and boycotts across the South to bring attention to the plight of African Americans. Years spent demanding equality for all. Years spent dreaming of the day that black people would have the same rights as white people, and would be treated with the same dignity and respect. It was time for Martin to share his dream.

My Review:
When I saw this book at the Scholastic book fair this spring, I got super excited! It is by far one of the most beautiful stories explaining Dr. King. I grew up seeing these iconic images, but many of my students had not. This is a historical book that not only tells readers about Martin Kings dream speech, it shows them the impact that one man had on millions of people. Now more than ever, it is important to stress equality among our students. Civil Rights are not always civil. Students need to see what took place all those years ago. I feel like this book needs to be in every child’s hand. Not simply for Martin King day, but for every other day as well. This is an excellent and beautiful story.
Ages 7 and up
40 Pages

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Civil Rights, Read Your World

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement By Robert F. Sibert

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Back of Book: This welcome biography brings to light one of the civil rights movement’s most inspiring leaders. The youngest of 20 children, Fannie Lou Hamer grew up in a family of sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta. Forced to leave school after sixth grade, she joined the rest of her family in the fields picking cotton. Still hungry for knowledge, she found strength in the love of her family and through her Christian faith. Weatherford describes the hardships that Hamer endured.

My Review:

This picture book has won many awards! It is the tale of how one woman would not be beat down. I had not heard of Fannie Lou Hamer and found that this story gave me a strong insight and into her life and struggle. The material can be hard to read and is not intended for young children. There is a place in the book that has strong language and could be seen to some readers as offensive. I found that this story was very thought provoking and helped me to understand the fight of Jim Crow Laws a bit better. The illustrations are beautiful show readers a very clear look into one strong woman’s journey. I thought the first person narrative was a nice touch to showing readers the strength behind Fannie Lou Hamer.

Ages 10 and up

56 Pages

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Baseball, Civil Rights, Read Your World

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story By Audrey Vernick

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Back of Book:

 Effa always loved baseball. As a young woman, she would go to Yankee Stadium just to see Babe Ruth’s mighty swing. But she never dreamed she would someday own a baseball team. Or be the first—and only—woman ever inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

From her childhood in Philadelphia to her groundbreaking role as business manager and owner of the Newark Eagles, Effa Manley always fought for what was right. And she always swung for the fences.

My Review:

I did not  grow up around baseball in the same way that other people did. My family is a football family. When I started teaching, I began to realize how many amazing picture books are centered around the game of baseball. I had never heard of Effa Manley until I picked up this story. I feel in love with her strength and pride. This book really tells the story of how one African American woman broke all the stereotypes that were put in her path. This is an excellent story that is perfect for baseball lovers. It also fits into Black History month or National Woman’s month. I truly enjoyed reading it.

Ages 6 and up

32 Pages  

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Civil Rights

Mr. Lincoln’s Way By Patricia Polacco

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Back of Book: Mr. Lincoln is the coolest principal ever! He knows how to do everything, from jumping rope to leading nature walks. Everyone loves him. . . except for Eugene Esterhause. “Mean Gene” hates everyone who’s different. He’s a bully, a bad student, and he calls people awful, racist names. But Mr. Lincoln knows that Eugene isn’t really bad-he’s just repeating things he’s heard at home. Can the principal find a way to get through to “Mean Gene” and show him that the differences between people are what make them special?

My Review: I am a huge fan of Patricia Polacco she has the ability to write beautiful stories about very relevant things. This book discusses the issues of race and bullying. Eugene represents a boy who is being raised to hate anything or anyone who is different than them.  Patricia uses birds to show that every person has their own beauty. Mr. Lincoln is the kind of Principal that every teacher hopes to have. This is a beautiful story to share with children about how everyone is different in their own special way.

 

Ages 9 and up

48 Pages

Civil Rights, Read Your World

Talkin’ about Besse By Nikki Grimes

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Back of Book: Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman was always being told what she could & couldn’t do. In an era when Jim Crow laws and segregation were a way of life, it was not easy to survive. Bessie didn’t let that stop her. Although she was only 11 when the Wright brothers took their historic flight, she vowed to become the first African -American female pilot. Her sturdy faith and determination helped her overcome obstacles of poverty, racism, and gender discrimination.

My Review: I love finding stories that discuss the amazing advances that women have made throughout history. I found this story particularly intriguing because it is written from other people’s perspectives of her. It begins with her parents and continues to the perspectives of her siblings, classmates, and people who interacted with her. The book discusses her love of knowledge and her determination to fly in a plane. I think this is a great book to bring out for Black History Month or a look at strong women. This is also a good story to do a book report on.

Ages 9 and up

48 pages