February 25th, 2012 by Karen
Last month, I posted about the civil rights movement in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I mentioned sit-ins to protest segregated restaurants, and I shared trailers for books about church bombings and school integration. But there’s one thing I didn’t talk about at all: the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March, when 4,000 black elementary, middle, and high school students chose to be jailed as part of the fight for civil rights.
Pretty incredible, right? But even more incredible in my opinion — I don’t remember ever hearing about this before! Now that I know about it, I feel like this amazing story should be shared with everyone… so thank goodness for We’ve Got a Job by Cynthia Levinson! The book traces the build-up to the march, the crazy events during the days of student protest, the kids’ experience in overcrowded jails, and the aftermath of the movement through the eyes of four students who took part in it all.
If you’ve got an assignment for Black History Month, this is the perfect book for you. It’s full of photos, direct quotes from people who were there, and alternating viewpoints to show everything that was going on at the time. But also, it’s really truly fascinating! Here’s a taste, from the very beginning of the book:
On Thursday morning, May 2, 1963, nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks woke up with freedom on her mind. But, before she could be free, there was something important she had to do.
“I want to go to jail,” Audrey had told her mother.
Since Mr. and Mrs. Hendricks thought that was a good idea, they helped her get ready. Her father had even bought her a new game she’d been eyeing. Audrey imagined that it would entertain her if she got bored during her week on a cell block.
That morning, her mother took her to Center Street Elementary so she could tell her third-grade teacher why she’d be absent. Mrs. Wills cried. Audrey knew she was proud of her.
She also hugged all four grandparents goodbye.
One of her grandmothers assured her, “You’ll be fine.”
Then Audrey’s parents drove her to church to get arrested.
What the wha?! Can you even imagine getting ready to do something like that? It makes for a totally gripping read — kind of a cross between a textbook and a suspense novel!
Of course, if you want an actual novel to read after We’ve Got a Job, then don’t forget Nancy’s recommendation for Black History Month: Gabriel’s Horses by Alison Hart. Or if you have your own favorite book on the topic, leave a comment and tell us about it!
Karen used to avoid nonfiction, until she realized how awesome it can be! Her favorite kind of nonfiction is crazy factoid books.