Review: Choosing Brave : How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement

Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement by Angela Joy and Janelle Washington is a stunning picture book biography that captures a difficult lesson in American history for young readers in a remarkably age-appropriate way. Choosing Brave follows the life of Mamie Till-Mobley, who was the mother of Emmett Till. Emmett Till was a young Black boy who was murdered after he allegedly whistled at a white woman in Mississippi in 1955. Mamie Till-Mobley’s response to this tragedy ignited the Civil Rights Movement and caused her to become The Mother of The Movement.

Title: Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and
Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement

Author: Angela Joy
Illustrator: Janelle Washington
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan Kids)
Published: September 6, 2022
Format: Picture Book

Choosing Brave documents Mamie’s childhood in which her family moved from Mississippi to Illinois during the Great Migration and follows along as she excels at school and graduates at the top of her class. Mamie becomes what many considered an “old maid” when she is unmarried at 18, so she is pressured to marry Louis Till. They have a little boy named Emmett shortly before Louis joins the army and leaves Mamie a widow at the age of 23.

Emmett is raised by Mamie and her mother, who cares for him while Mamie works. When he contracted polio as a child, Emmett recovered but developed a stutter. Mamie taught him a trick to help – by whistling, Emmett could take a moment to stop and get the words out. When he was 14, Emmett Till traveled to visit family in Mississippi, where his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River a little over a week after he arrived.

Since 1955, there have been many versions of the events that lead to the murder of Emmett Till. As someone who writes non-fiction, I know the challenges this kind of historical ambiguity can create for authors, but Angela Joy handles it flawlessly. She addresses the shifting story, but holds fast to the facts.

Even more impressive to me is the way that Choosing Brave handles the murder of Emmett Till in an age-appropriate way. When I say age-appropriate, I don’t mean that it is skipped over or minimized in any way. Angela Joy does not shy away from the brutality and injustice of Emmett Till’s murder, but directly addresses horrible truths that are too often left out of history books with poetic text. The juxtaposition of the beautiful lyrical language with the horrible act of violence is absolutely haunting.

The illustrations by debut illustrator Janelle Washington are absolute perfection. The paper-cut illustrations are so unique and incredibly moving on every single spread.

Choosing Brave captures the bravery, resilience, and grace of Mamie Till-Mobley, who shared her unimaginable grief and pain with the world. She bared her soul to the country and turned a tragedy into a movement for change. I have a feeling this book is going to win a lot of awards this year, and I cannot recommend it enough.

With extensive backmatter, including an author’s note, illustrator’s note, soundtrack, glossary, and timeline of the events of Emmett Till’s death (including the passing of The Emmett Till Antilynching Act in 2022) Choosing Brave is an absolute must-have for classrooms. I believe this is especially true for the classrooms of white children whose ancestors’ brutality and hatred are so often hidden from them “for their own good”.

It will be officially released next week (September 6, 2022), but you can preorder today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Roaring Brooks Press and Macmillan Kids for sending me a review copy of Choosing Brave. I am honored to share Mamie Till-Mobley’s and Emmett Till’s stories today.

About The Author:

Before graduating from the University of Minnesota, Angela Joy attended NYU and Spelman College. Angela then traveled as a background vocalist, also working in television and movie soundtracks. She lives in southern California with her family. To learn more about Angela and her work please visit her website at angelajoyblog.com.

About The Illustrator:

Janelle Washington is a self-taught paper-cut artist from Virginia. She has permanent silhouettes housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, DC, and Downing-Gross Community Arts Center in Newport News, Virginia. Please visit Jannelle’s website washingtoncuts.com for more information about her and her work.

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Review: Fighting for YES!: The Story of Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann

Today I’m sharing a stunning picture book biography that captures the impact and influence of one of America’s greatest living activists. Fighting for YES!: The Story of Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann celebrates the life and work of disability rights activist and icon Judith Heumann, highlighting one of her landmark achievements—leading the historic 504 Sit-in in 1977.

Title: Fighting for YES!: The Story of Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann
Author: Maryann Cocca-Leffler
Illustrator: Vivien Mildenberger
Publisher: Abrams Books For Young Readers
Published: August 9, 2022
Format: Picture Book

Beginning with her childhood in New York, Fighting For Yes! highlights the many ways the world often told Judy “No”. As a child, she was turned away from multiple schools because she used a wheelchair. Though her family never treated her differently, the world held different expectations for her, and those expectations often meant she was not allowed to participate in the same activities as other kids her age.

Naturally, Judy turned to activism in her adult years. She spoke out against the unfair treatment of people with disabilities and the lack of accessibility at her university. When the New York Board of Education told Judy she couldn’t be a teacher because she used a wheelchair, she had finally had enough of the “No”s. She decided to sue the Board of Education, bringing the first disability civil rights case to a federal court. She contacted the media and rallied support for her cause. Because Judy fought back, she finally got a “Yes” instead of a “No”. She won her case and the New York Board of Education could no longer discriminate against teachers with disabilities.

But this wasn’t Judy’s major accomplishment. She went on to become an advocate for the disabled community, leading and founding organizations like Disabled In Action and The American Coalition of Citizens With Disabilities. It was with the support of this community of activists that Judy and her fellow demonstrators were able to successfully organize a sit-in lasting twenty-four days to pressure Congress to sign Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – an amendment that paved the way for the American Disabilities Act.

Fighting For Yes! wonderfully captures the fighting spirit of a woman who changed our country for the better, but I absolutely love the way it highlights the ways we can all fight for one another. Judy was a wheelchair user, but her activism didn’t stop at wheelchair access. She wanted to include ALL disabled people in her activism. This kind of inclusion is so necessary in every fight, and I love that Fighting For Yes! shares it with young readers.

Fighting for Yes! would make a wonderful addition to classroom and school libraries. The back matter contains an educational Author’s Note, as well as a note from Judith Heumann herself, giving young readers a personal look into her reflections on her achievements.

Though Fighting For Yes! officially releases next week (August 9, 2022), you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Abrams Books For Young Readers for sharing this inspiring picture book biography with me. I am so honored to be able to share Judith’s story with my readers today!

About The Author:

Maryann Cocca-Leffler is an award-winning author and illustrator of more than 65 books for children, including The Power of Yet and We Want to Go to School! The Fight for Disability Rights. She lives and works in Portland, Maine. Visit her at http://www.maryanncoccaleffler.com. 

About The Illustrator:

Vivien Mildenberger is the illustrator of a number of books for children, including All in a Drop and The Voice that Won the Vote. She lives on a lovely farm just outside of Nashville, where she works on her illustrations, pottery, and other general magic-making.

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Three Lines In A Circle

Did you know that the peace symbol was developed in 1958 by an activist in London protesting nuclear weapons? Well, I didn’t until I read Three Lines in a Circle by Michael G. Long. This wonderful picture book provides young readers with a history behind the peace symbol and the man who created it.

Title: Three Lines in a Circle
Author: Michael G. Long
Illustrator: Carlos Vélez
Publisher: Flyaway Books
Published: August 31, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Three Lines in a Circle introduces young readers to Gerald Holtom, the man who designed the popular symbol, and the many peace movements that the sign has been a part of. Beginning with the London to Aldermaston March against nuclear weapons, all the way to nationwide protests for racial justice in 2020, readers will follow along as the world embraces Gerald’s symbol and demand peace, justice, and equality.

The illustrations by Carlos Vélez are so wonderful! I love the way the peace sign is sprinkled throughout the illustrations, creating a perfect opportunity to engage readers by finding them throughout the story.

The back-matter contains an informative author’s note, along with a timeline of peaceful protests across the world. Opening the door to further history lessons, Three Lines in a Circle would make a great addition to classroom and school libraries.

Three Lines in a Circle officially releases next week (August 31, 2021), but you can preorder your copy today at Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Thank you so much to Flyaway Books for generously providing an advance copy of Three Lines in a Circle for me to review!

About the Author:

Michael G. Long has written books for all ages on civil rights and peacemaking in mid-century America, including the stories of Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin, Jackie Robinson, and Mister Rogers. He lives in Pennsylvania.

About The Illustrator:

Carlos Vélez has illustrated more than twenty books for children and has been recognized with illustration awards from the Catalog of Illustrators of Children’s and Youth Publications and the National Fund for Culture and the Arts. He lives in Mexico City.

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Kids On The March : 15 Stories of Speaking Out, Protesting, and Fighting For Justice

Kids On The March by Michael G. Long is an inspiring book for young activists. Opening in 1903 with the March of The Mill Children and spanning all the way to the George Floyd protests of 2020, this book shares fifteen stories of students standing up for their rights.

With the way some people talk about “kids these days”, some may forget that children have always taken part in civil disobedience in our country. Children were absolutely crucial to the efforts of the March For Jobs on Washington and, of course, the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, Alabama. Though they are no longer children, we have them to thank for the end of segregation, proving that no voice is too small to speak up for what’s right.

Though there were several protests I was familiar with, I was very pleased to find some that I was not aware of, like the Bonus March in 1932. I have to admit that I was not always the greatest listener in history class, so it excited me to learn about some lessons I missed in school myself.

There is also a very helpful “Tips For Marching” section at the back of the book, with plenty of advice for young readers who are ready to organize their own protests.

I really appreciate the way Michael Long presents the facts of each uprising while highlighting the injustices Americans were protesting. He clearly lays out the thoughts and feelings of the protestors, helping young readers empathize with their causes.

Kids on The March is sure to inspire another generation of outspoken activists. I believe this title is a must-read for any child showing an interest in fairness, equality, or justice. Though I would recommend this title for a slightly older audience (10 years and up), as there is some discussion of violence, racism, and sexism.

You can pick up your own copy of Kids On The March wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

Michael G. Long is an author and editor based in Pennsylvania. Though he has written many books about civil rights, LGBTQ+ rights, protests, and politics, Kids On The March is his first book for young readers.

I would like to thank Algonquin Young Readers and Workman Publishing for providing me with a review copy of this fantastic book. I am so proud to share this book with my readers, and can’t wait to meet all the future activists this book will inspire.

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10 Children’s Books To Celebrate World Day Of Social Justice

In 2007 The United Nations declared that February 20th would be celebrated every year as World Day Of Social Justice. Today is all about promoting the need for social justice, which include human rights, poverty, gender equality, unemployment, and more. In honor of this observance, I want to share a few of my favorite titles to inspired the next generation of change makers.

I tried to include something for all age groups (with the exception of young adult, because that’s just not my area of expertise). I should also note that I tried to steer away from picture book biographies for this list, because there are so many amazing stories of people fighting for change that I couldn’t pick favorites. This list is focused on titles that will encourage young readers to raise their voice, and speak up for the issues that are most important to them.

That being said, let’s get into my 10 picks for World Day of Social Justice.

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission from purchases made, with no additional cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing content to you.

Say Something by Peter H. Reynolds (Bookshop | Amazon)

“In this empowering new picture book, beloved author Peter H. Reynolds explores the many ways that a single voice can make a difference. Each of us, each and every day, have the chance to say something: with our actions, our words, and our voices. Perfect for kid activists everywhere, this timely story reminds readers of the undeniable importance and power of their voice. There are so many ways to tell the world who you are… what you are thinking… and what you believe. And how you’ll make it better. The time is now: SAY SOMETHING!”

Get Up, Stand Up by Bob Marley, Adapter by Cedella Marley, and Illustrated by John Jay Cabuay (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A heartfelt and meaningful book that brings Bob Marley’s music to life in a new way: As a young girl goes on with her day in school, she comes across several instances of teasing and intimidation. But with loving action and some help from her friends, she’s able to make things right for herself and others. This cute children’s book includes the impactful lyrics of Bob Marley’s song ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ that has inspired millions of listeners around the world with messages of peace, love, and truth.”

Peaceful Fights For Equal Rights by Rob Sanders, Illustrated by Jared Andrew Schorr (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Protesting. Standing up for what’s right. Uniting around the common good—kids have questions about all of these things they see and hear about each day. Through sparse and lyrical writing, Rob Sanders introduces abstract concepts like “fighting for what you believe in” and turns them into something actionable. Jared Schorr’s bold, bright illustrations brings the resistance to life making it clear that one person can make a difference. And together, we can accomplish anything.”

Equality’s Call by Deborah Diesen, Illustrated by Magdelena Mora (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A right isn’t right
till it’s granted to all…

The founders of the United States declared that consent of the governed was a key part of their plan for the new nation. But for many years, only white men of means were allowed to vote. This unflinching and inspiring history of voting rights looks back at the activists who answered equality’s call, working tirelessly to secure the right for all to vote, and it also looks forward to the future and the work that still needs to be done.”

Sometimes People March by Tessa Allen (Bookshop | Amazon)

“With a spare, inspiring text and gorgeous watercolor illustrations, this is a timeless and important book for activists of all ages. This hardcover picture book is perfect for sharing and for gifting.

Sometimes people march
to resist injustice,
to stand in solidarity,
to inspire hope.

Throughout American history, one thing remains true: no matter how or why people march, they are powerful because they march together.”

Love Is Powerful by Heather Dean Brewer, Illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Mari is getting ready to make a sign with crayon as the streets below her fill up with people. “What are we making, Mama?” she asks. “A message for the world,” Mama says. “How will the whole world hear?” Mari wonders. “They’ll hear,” says Mama, “because love is powerful.” Inspired by a girl who participated in the January 2017 Women’s March in New York City, Heather Dean Brewer’s simple and uplifting story, delightfully illustrated by LeUyen Pham, is a reminder of what young people can do to promote change and equality at a time when our country is divided by politics, race, gender, and religion.”

If You’re Going To A March by Martha Freeman, Illustrated by Violet Kim (Bookshop | Amazon)

“As more and more children attend the growing number of marches across the country, this cheerful guide serves as a great reference tool and conversation starter for youthful participants. Inspired by author Martha Freeman’s own experiences, this picture book addresses many of the questions kids might have: What should I wear? How will I get there? Where will I be able to go to the bathroom? Is it okay to dance? (Yes, it is!). All the while the text stays focused on the fact that the right to assemble is a Constitutional part of our life as Americans . . . whatever our political point of view.”

Together We March by Leah Henderson, Illustrated by Tyler Feder (Bookshop | Amazon)

“March through history and discover twenty-five groundbreaking protest movements that have shaped the way we fight for equality and justice today in this stunningly illustrated and sweeping book!
For generations, marches have been an invaluable tool for bringing about social change. People have used their voices, the words on their signs, and the strength in their numbers to combat inequality, oppression, and discrimination. They march to call attention to these wrongs and demand change and action, from a local to a global scale.
Whether demanding protective laws or advocating for equal access to things like voting rights, public spaces, and jobs, the twenty-five marches in this book show us that even when a fight seems impossible, marching can be the push needed to tip the scales and create a movement. This gorgeous collection celebrates this rich and diverse history, the often-overlooked stories, and the courageous people who continue to teach us the importance of coming together to march today.”

No Voice Too Small by Lindsey H. Metcalf, Keila Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Mari Copeny demanded clean water in Flint. Jazz Jennings insisted, as a transgirl, on playing soccer with the girls’ team. From Viridiana Sanchez Santos’s quinceañera demonstration against anti-immigrant policy to Zach Wahls’s moving declaration that his two moms and he were a family like any other, No Voice Too Small celebrates the young people who know how to be the change they seek. Fourteen poems honor these young activists. Featuring poems by Lesléa Newman, Traci Sorell, and Nikki Grimes. Additional text goes into detail about each youth activist’s life and how readers can get involved.”

Kid Activists by Robin Stevenson, Illustrated by Allison Steinfeld (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Every activist started out as a kid—and in some cases they were kids when their activism began! But even the world’s greatest champions of civil liberties had relatable interests and problems–often in the middle of extraordinary circumstances. Martin Luther King, Jr. loved fashion, and argued with his dad about whether or not dancing was a sin. Harvey Milk had a passion for listening to opera music in different languages. Dolores Huerta was once wrongly accused of plagiarizing in school. Kid Activists tells these childhood stories and more through kid-friendly texts and full-color cartoon illustrations on nearly every page. The diverse and inclusive group encompasses Susan B. Anthony, James Baldwin, Ruby Bridges, Frederick Douglass, Alexander Hamilton, Dolores Huerta, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Iqbal Masih, Harvey Milk, Janet Mock, Rosa Parks, Autumn Peltier, Emma Watson, and Malala Yousafzai.”

I hope this list helps you all find a few extra titles to encourage your young readers to speak up for the issues closest to their hearts.

What are your favorite books about activism and social justice? Be sure to leave them in the comments below!

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Sixteen Children’s Books To Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

While most of us know Martin Luther King Jr. as a minister, activist, and spokesperson for the Civil Rights Movement, it’s easy to forget that many young readers may not be as familiar with Dr. King, or the Civil Right Movement itself.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, than to share his story with younger readers and encourage the next generation to stand up for equality. So today, I will be sharing a few books about the man himself, as well as a few additional books related to the Civil Rights Movement, to facilitate further conversations of Dr. King’s legacy and the accomplishments of the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.

Please Note: This article will contain affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and continue bringing regular content to you.

Board Books

Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? by Lisbeth Kaiser, Illustrated by Stanley Chow (Bookshop | Amazon)

“The chronology and themes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s meaningful life are presented in a masterfully succinct text, with just a few sentences per page. The fresh, stylized illustrations are sure to captivate young readers and adults alike. With a read-aloud biographical summary in the back, this age-appropriate introduction honors and shares the life and work of one of the most influential civil rights activists of our time.”

No! My First Book Of Protest by Julie Merberg, Illustrated by Molly Egan (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Little ones who love to say “No!” can chime in while they learn about iconic activists from Frederick Douglass and Alice Paul to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malala.

Each spread introduces an iconic figure—such as Gloria Steinem or Cesar Chavez—along with a super simple summary of the actions they took to change the course of history. Activists of all ages will learn about the abolitionist movement, civil rights, women’s rights, and more! Detailed, colorful art will thoroughly engage toddlers and preschoolers. And the chance to join the refrain on every spread “NO, NO!” is sure to please the tiniest protestors. (A mini history of protest movements at the end of the books is a handy cheat sheet for parents!)”

My First Little People Big Dreams: Rosa Parks by Lisbeth Kaiser, Illustrated by Marta Antelo (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Rosa Parks grew up in Alabama, where she learned to stand up for herself at an early age. Rosa went on to become a civil rights activist. In 1955, she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Her courageous decision had a huge impact on civil rights, eventually leading to the end of segregation on public transport. She never stopped working for equal rights. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating icon, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own.”

Picture Books

My Little Golden Book About Martin Luther King Jr. by Bonnie Bader, Illustrated by Sue Cornelison (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with this Little Golden Book biography all about the civil rights leader! The perfect introduction to nonfiction for preschoolers.

This Little Golden Book captures the essence of Martin Luther King, Jr. for the littlest readers. They’ll learn how his childhood in segregated Atlanta—and in his father’s church—shaped the future civil rights leader. And they’ll gain a clear understanding of the way he became an eloquent, powerful voice for African Americans.”

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo, Illustrated by J. Brian Pinkney (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This book is a beautifully-rendered study of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, told in simple, straightforward language for even the youngest of readers to understand. Pinkney’s scratchboard and oil pastel illustrations convey both the strength and gentleness of King’s character. Both text and art carry his central message of peace and brotherhood among all people.”

I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King, Illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Bookshop | Amazon)

“On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Martin Luther King gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in our nation’s history. His words, paired with Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson’s magnificent paintings, make for a picture book certain to be treasured by children and adults alike. The themes of equality and freedom for all are not only relevant today, 50 years later, but also provide young readers with an important introduction to our nation’s past. Included with the book is an audio CD of the speech.”

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference.

Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else.

So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher’s words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan—picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!—she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! She was going to j-a-a-il!

Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.”

The Teachers March!: How Selma’s Teachers Changed History by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, Illustrated by Charly Palmer (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Demonstrating the power of protest and standing up for a just cause, here is an exciting tribute to the educators who participated in the 1965 Selma Teachers’ March.

Reverend F.D. Reese was a leader of the Voting Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama. As a teacher and principal, he recognized that his colleagues were viewed with great respect in the city. Could he convince them to risk their jobs–and perhaps their lives–by organizing a teachers-only march to the county courthouse to demand their right to vote? On January 22, 1965, the Black teachers left their classrooms and did just that, with Reverend Reese leading the way. Noted nonfiction authors Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace conducted the last interviews with Reverend Reese before his death in 2018 and interviewed several teachers and their family members in order to tell this story, which is especially important today.”

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romito, Illustrated by Laura Freeman (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Georgia Gilmore was a cook at the National Lunch Company in Montgomery, Alabama. When the bus boycotts broke out in Montgomery after Rosa Parks was arrested, Georgia knew just what to do. She organized a group of women who cooked and baked to fund-raise for gas and cars to help sustain the boycott. Called the Club from Nowhere, Georgia was the only person who knew who baked and bought the food, and she said the money came from “nowhere” to anyone who asked. When Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for his role in the boycott, Georgia testified on his behalf, and her home became a meeting place for civil rights leaders. This picture book highlights a hidden figure of the civil rights movement who fueled the bus boycotts and demonstrated that one person can make a real change in her community and beyond. It also includes one of her delicious recipes for kids to try with the help of their parents!”

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This picture book is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement.

Andrea Davis Pinkney uses poetic, powerful prose to tell the story of these four young men, who followed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words of peaceful protest and dared to sit at the “whites only” Woolworth’s lunch counter. Brian Pinkney embraces a new artistic style, creating expressive paintings filled with emotion that mirror the hope, strength, and determination that fueled the dreams of not only these four young men, but also countless others.”

Middle Grade

Trailblazers: Martin Luther King, Jr.: Fighting for Civil Rights by Christine Platt (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Bring history home and meet some of the world’s greatest game changers! Get inspired by the true story of the civil rights leader whose peaceful fight for justice still motivates people today. This biography series is for kids who loved Who Was? and are ready for the next level.

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to more than 250,000 people in Washington, DC about his dream of racial equality. His message of peaceful protest inspired a generation to stand up for their rights. Find out how a boy who was not allowed to go to school or the movies with white people blazed a trail in civil rights.”

Mighty Justice (Young Readers’ Edition): The Untold Story of Civil Rights Trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree by Katie McCabe (Bookshop | Amazon)

“A young reader’s adaptation of Mighty Justice: My Life in Civil Rights, the memoir of activist and trailblazer Dovey Johnson Roundtree, by Katie McCabe.

Raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the height of Jim Crow, Dovey Johnson Roundtree felt the sting of inequality at an early age and made a point to speak up for justice. She was one of the first Black women to break the racial and gender barriers in the US Army; a fierce attorney in the segregated courtrooms of
Washington, DC; and a minister in the AME church, where women had never before been ordained as clergy. In 1955, Roundtree won a landmark bus desegregation case that eventually helped end “separate but equal” and dismantle Jim Crow laws across the South.

Developed with the full support of the Dovey Johnson Roundtree Educational Trust and adapted from her memoir, this book brings her inspiring, important story and voice to life.”

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose (Bookshop | Amazon)

“On March 2, 1955, an impassioned teenager, fed up with the daily injustices of Jim Crow segregation, refused to give her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of being celebrated as Rosa Parks would be just nine months later, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin found herself shunned by her classmates and dismissed by community leaders. Undaunted, a year later she dared to challenge segregation again as a key plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle, the landmark case that struck down the segregation laws of Montgomery and swept away the legal underpinnings of the Jim Crow South.
Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and many others, Phillip Hoose presents the first in-depth account of an important yet largely unknown civil rights figure, skillfully weaving her dramatic story into the fabric of the historic Montgomery bus boycott and court case that would change the course of American history.”

Graphic Novels

Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story by Alfred Hassler and Benton Resnik (Bookshop | Amazon)

“Nearly sixty years after its creation, a little-known landmark of comic book history returns! This 16-page comic is a simple but revolutionary account of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, in which Rosa Parks, Dr. King, and 50,000 others used the power of nonviolence to battle segregation on city buses – and win. First published in December 1957 by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, it went unnoticed by the mainstream comic book industry, but spread like wildfire among civil rights groups, churches, and schools, helping to mobilize a generation to join the global fight for equality – nonviolently. Personally endorsed by Martin Luther King, Jr. himself, over time this comic book has reached beyond his time and place to inspire activists in Latin America, South Africa, Vietnam, Egypt, and beyond… as well as inspiring MARCH, the new graphic novel trilogy by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell.”

March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Bookshop | Amazon)

“March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.

Book One spans John Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.”

Rosa Parks And The Montgomery Bus Boycott by Connie Rose Miller and Dan Kalal (Bookshop | Amazon)

“This powerful graphic novel follows the courageous life of Rosa Parks, who was arrested in 1955 for not giving up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. With comic book-style illustrations and engaging, easy-to-read text, this biography will inspire, entertain, and inform young readers about an individual who made a significant contribution to society. A must-have in any home, classroom, or library seeking a historical understanding of contemporary racial issues.”

I hope you all enjoyed this collection of books, and maybe found a book or two to add your library. Did I miss any of your favorites? Be sure to share them in the comments below!

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AAAlligator! – A Picture Book about Civil Disobedience

Today, I want to talk to you all about an adorable story of alligators and proclamations.

AAAlligator by Judith Henderson tells the story of a boy who finds an alligator in need of help in the woods near his home. The boy decides to feed the alligator, so naturally, they become good friends. When the boy takes the alligator into town, the Mayor declares there can be no alligators. The boy explains that the alligator is hungry and he could eat the townspeople’s leftovers, but the mayor is adamant. However, the community comes to their own conclusions. I don’t want to give away the ending, but I will say that our story has a happy one (well, for almost everyone anyway).

Paired with amazing illustrations by Andrea Stegmaier, this book gives us the perfect opportunity to discuss civil disobedience, which can be an extremely effective way to address injustices in our communities. I don’t know about you, but I intend for my child to question the rules around him. Asking questions is the key to critical thinking, and critical thinking is an invaluable life skill. I plan to encourage it very early.

I want to teach him to question before he decides where he stands on an issue. Does this rule exist to keep the town safe? Or is it someone’s bias written into a proclamation? If this community can come together to feed an alligator AND eliminate their food waste, why shouldn’t they?

However, because it is Thanksgiving week in the US and we are currently living in the midst of a global pandemic, I will address the elephant (or alligator) in the room. I couldn’t help but think of COVID deniers and anti-maskers during my second reading.

While I wholeheartedly believe that civil disobedience is a necessity for positive change in our world, I believe we have a duty to participate responsibly. I really appreciate books like this one because it gives us the opportunity to encourage our children (and ourselves) to ask the difficult questions. Are we defending someone’s humanity? Are we making our community a better place? Are we fighting for the little guy? Are we being responsible? Or are we upset because we have to miss a holiday and wear cloth on our faces to keep our communities safe? Are we willing to put aside the health of our neighbors, friends, and family members so we don’t have to follow rules we don’t agree with?

I highly recommend AAAlligator if you would like to start these conversations with your children. You can purchase it at my Bookshop page or just about anywhere books are sold. (Please note: these are affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission on purchases made through these links. This commission allows me to maintain this website and provide you with more content.)

I would also like to thank Kids Can Press and the Hachette Book Group for providing me with a review copy of this book. I have a feeling it will spark plenty of conversations with the young readers in my life.

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