Tag Archives: Civil rights

Rebecca Caudill Roundup 2017: Turning 15 On The Road to Freedom

Turning Fifteen on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery is an engaging and accessible memoir. I knew that young people were involved starting very early on in the Civil Rights movement, but I was shocked to hear exactly to what degree. Teens put their beliefs out in in front and their lives on the line so that their parents could go to work and the marches could continue. In fact, Lowery was arrested nine times before the age of 15, and while her descriptions of the prison conditions are chilling, her perseverance is inspiring. This book is extremely accessible to all ages–from middle grade to adult readers, as Lowery’s writing style makes it seem as if one is sitting down to share a cup of tea with her and listening to her memories of those volatile times. Photographs and graphic-novel-style illustrations further add to the impact of the text, and the slim look and feel has the potential to draw in even the most reluctant of readers. This Sibert Medal Honor book has already touched the hearts and minds of many of my students and it is likely to have a lasting impact.

Interested in extending the conversation about this book?



It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 8/8/16

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

Last Week’s Books:

So droves of other people and I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child this week. I have not spent an abundance of time reading other people’s review/opinions of this play; however, from what I have read, it seems that readers either love it or hate it. I am planted firmly in the “love it” camp. I picked up the book and after a few minutes of acclimating to the play format, I found myself completely immersed in Harry’s world once again. I found the plot and the characters engaging, and there were just the right amount of dashes of peril and fun. An, most importantly, I know that when school starts I will have many junior high readers eager to talk to me about it or to get their hands on a library copy. This book counts for my Read Harder Challenge 2016 (category 23 – a play).

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko is an informational picture book about a lesser known area in the struggle for civil rights. In 1958, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter wanted to marry, but their home state of Virginia did not allow interracial marriage. So they crossed into Washington, D.C. for their ceremony and went back home to live. Not long after, police broke into their home and jailed them for “unlawfully cohabitating.” The couple were forced to leave Virginia, but in 1966 they missed their families and hometown and hired lawyers to fight against the unfair law. Their case went all the way to the Supreme Court and won! This book is a great way to introduce this civil rights achievement and the idea of marriage equality for all to readers at a variety of age levels. The text is simple enough for elementary students, but the topic will provoke discussion among middle and high school students who experience it as a mentor text or read it on their own . Alko and her husband, Sean Qualls, collaborated on the illustrations, which are a mixture of painting, collage, and colored pencil and are a great accompaniment to the narrative. The author’s note, list of sources, and suggestions for further reading will inspire interested students to continue to learn more.

I read Drones in Education to review it for School Library Connection. I cannot provide my full review here, but I will say that it is a comprehensive guide for educators interested in exploring the use of drones in the classroom, written with the newbie in mind.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

On Deck:

2017 Rebecca Caudill Roundup: The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

Back after a short end-of-school-year hiatus, I am sharing one 2017 Rebecca Caudill nominee each week, usually on Thursday.

portchicagoIf you’re looking for excellence in literary nonfiction, look no further than Steve Sheinkin. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights is the second book of his to make a Caudill list. Sheinkin is a former textbook writer who is atoning for “previous crimes” (his words) by sharing the exciting and important stories he “stashed away” during his years of research.

The Port Chicago 50 is a thoroughly researched book, and one which is sure to illuminate an important historic event for young and old readers alike. Sheinkin recounts what happened during World War II at California’s Port Chicago Naval Magazine. A group of African American Navy men survived a horrific explosion (that killed many others) and then refused to load ammunition onto ships due to fear of unsafe working conditions that might cause a similar disaster. Key to understanding this issue is that only African American sailors were given this job and that their superiors often bet money to see which divisions could load the fastest. Fifty men were imprisoned, tried for mutiny, found guilty, and imprisoned again after an unfair trial. However, their actions illuminated discriminatory practices in the U.S. Navy and lead to positive change. Sheinkin tells the story in a very readable and relatable way without downplaying the injustices these men endured. 

This stellar work won the 2014 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Excellence in Nonfiction and was a National Book Award Finalist that same year. You can listen to Sheinkin share a passage from the book at the NBA Finalists’ Reading here:


Check out Roundup posts for other 2017 nominees here.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/21/16

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme started by Book Journey. The folks over at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers have given it a children’s/YA spin. I thought it would be a fun way to recap last week’s reading and give a sneak peek of my TBR pile.

Last Week’s Books:

Noelle Stevenson’s Lumberjanes, Vol. 2: Friendship to the Max continues the story of campers at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types. This time our heroines battle river monsters and dinosaurs and have a run-in with Artemis and Apollo. Same adventure, same fun, same great comic for all, but especially of interest to girls–and a perfect fit for my middle schools. This book counts for my Panels Challenge 2016–a feminist comic.

I had so many requests for All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely at one of middle schools that I bought two copies for each school and have had a hard time finding one on the shelf to read myself. In a story ripped from today’s headlines, an African-American teen named Rashad goes into a convenience store to buy a bag of chips and a pack of gum and winds up being a victim of police brutality. Rashad tells most his story from his hospital bed during the week after the encounter. Quinn, a white teen, witnesses Rashad’s beating, but it is at the hands of his father figure and best friend’s brother, police office Paul Galluzzo. When video footage is released to the media, Rashad’s story goes viral, and students and community members become divided. Reynolds and Kiely do an excellent job of showing how the truth gets buried under conjecture, prejudices, and loyalties. Rashad struggles when even some friends and family members assume at first that there must have been something he could have done to prevent or change what happened to him. Quinn struggles with the decision to speak up about what he saw and whether to attend a nonviolent protest, because he will be seen as a traitor by long-time family friends. This is definitely a book that will prompt deep thought and discussion. I have heard wonderful reviews from my middle school students, including my son  who is not typically a reader of realistic fiction. Librarians and teachers should note that expletives are used throughout, prompting me to put a “T for Teen” label on the book (my way of recommending it for 8th graders, although I do not restrict checkout). However, I did not hesitate to include it in my collection.

Speaking of nonviolent protests, I also read March Book One this week. In this graphic memoir, Congressman John Lewis, along with Andrew Aydin and John Powell, recount Lewis’ growing up and involvement in the civil rights movement. In this first book, the focus is on Lewis’ childhood, education, and participation in lunch counter sit-ins in Nashville. Emphasis is placed on the young people’s training in the procedures of conducting such a protest and the principles of nonviolence. The story will eventually include the March on Washington. Powell’s black-and-white images are powerful and compelling. This work is a great way to get graphic novel readers’ attention to important historical events. This book counts for my Panels Challenge 2016–a black-and-white comic.

Currently Reading/Listening To:

I saved Daniel Kraus’ 656-page epic for Spring Break 🙂

On Deck:

January 2015 Random Read

It’s time for the first Random Read of 2015! Thanks to imlovingbooks.coms for hosting this meme. This year, I will be reading off of my Goodreads to-read list because I have added all the things that still interested me from my Shelfari list.

A few days ago random.org chose #88 for me, so I will be reading The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin. I have heard lots of great buzz about this book and enjoyed Sheinkin’s Bomb, so this will be a great book for me this month. PLUS I was able to check out the e-book from my local public library’s collection, Win, win, win!

portchicagoHere is the Goodreads description:

On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away. On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution. This is a fascinating story of the prejudice that faced black men and women in America’s armed forces during World War II, and a nuanced look at those who gave their lives in service of a country where they lacked the most basic rights.

Since this is a National Book Award Finalist, I also intend to count it toward my #AWBRead2015 challenge, too 🙂