If you ever have the privilege of sitting in a Preschool or Kindergarten classroom, you might see that some of the strongest advocates for equal rights are small children. Kids can spot unfairness a mile away. I dare you to pass out ice cream at a birthday party and leave someone out (speaking from experience)!
While I have no clear explanation for my children and students about injustices, I can at least start by telling the stories. Below are five beautiful and honest books about the Civil Rights Movement.
Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton, Illustrated by Raul Colon. Beautifully illustrated, this book is told from a child's perspective. The book tells the story of the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.
It was also named as a book of the year by a comprehensive list put out by Bank Street College of Education.
Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr by Doreen Rappaport, Illustrated by Bryan Collier. A biography that incorporates quotes from MLK's speeches. This unforgettable story is accompanied with striking and bold pictures.
The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton. At the age of nine, Audrey became the youngest child to be arrested during a protest in 1963. She confidently and bravely stood up for civil rights.
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles and George Ford. Ruby was the first African American girl to desegregate an elementary school in New Orleans. I read this book several years in a row when teaching at an all-girls' school and it always sparked deep and moving conversations.
Separate is Never Equal by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney. The story is one of perseverance and determination, painting a true image of slow progress and social change. The book is about how one family ended school segregation in California, ten years after the passing of Brown vs. the Board of Education. This book is great for any age to enjoy with engaging illustrations and is the recipient of several awards such as the Robert F. Silbert Honor Book.