Fifty-five years ago today, Rosa Parks kept her seat on a bus and took a stand for civil rights. Inspired by this anniversary, we over here at Book Talk have been thinking about some of the books that can help kids learn about civil rights and the ongoing struggle for equality.
Let’s start with a few absolutely gorgeous picture books that tell the real-life stories of real-life heroes. There’s Henry’s Freedom Box, the story of Henry “Box” Brown, a slave who mailed himself to freedom in a wooden crate. Nikki Giovanni and Bryan Collier’s Rosa tells the story of Rosa Parks, whom we’re honoring today. Then there’s Martin’s Big Words, which is about—you guessed it—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The illustrations in these books are seriously out of this world, and the stories are (of course) incredible, too.
Then, my personal favorite: the novels (I love learning history this way). In these books, the fight for equality is the background against which the fictional story takes place. The now-classic The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 is an absolute must-read that follows one family as it moves to Birmingham, Alabama during the violent summer of 1963. For a more recent title and a slightly different angle, we love Jacqueline Woodson’s Feathers, in which a white student joins the narrator’s all-black class.
There are tons of wonderful books to read today in honor of Rosa Parks. Tell us: what’s on your list?
Note: You can find Henry’s Freedom Box, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, and Feathers online all year long in the “Award Winners” category on Club Shop! Martin’s Big Words is also in Club Shop, under “Nonfiction and Reference.” Rosa is available in Scholastic Book Clubs’ End-of-Year catalog, and don’t miss our special January Voices catalog, which celebrates African American Literature, History and Life! Click here to check them out.