The 1963 Birmingham Children's March
Review posted January 7, 2013.
Peachtree Publishers, 2012. 176 pages.
2012 Sonderbooks Standout: #5 Children's Nonfiction
I read this book because it was nominated for Capitol Choices for consideration as one of the 100 best children's books of the year, and I was so glad I did read it. I thought I knew quite a bit about the Civil Rights Movement, but this book looked at a part I'd never heard about before, when children got involved.
The author makes the information interesting and accessible to young readers by highlighting the stories of four individual children from different walks of life who all participated in the movement. She tells how each child got involved, whether from noble motives or not-so-noble, what each one experienced, and interviews them today. I like the way she takes a big topic and breaks it down to show us how children actually got to participate and make a difference. The book has plenty of black-and-white photographs and weaves together the four storylines in a natural way that make the overall complex topic more clear.
The author tells at the end why she chose this story to tell:
Like Wash, James, and Arnetta..., I was a teenager in 1963, living in Ohio. Although I read newspaper articles about the marches, hoses, and dogs, it wasn't until I was an adult, writing about music in the civil rights period for Cobblestone magazine, that I learned the heart of the story: all of the protesters assaulted and jailed that May were children.
How could I not have known? I had even taught American history to junior-high and high school students! My ignorance embarrassed me.
Many people, I realized, needed to know how a Children's March changed American history. So, I set out to learn what happened.
The book she has written is a wonderful way to find out more.