Civil Rights Movement Books for Kids

Today, Jennifer shares a roundup of books to help teach kids (and adults!) about the civil rights movement:

Last year, a school lesson on the civil rights movement really resonated with my kids. They never willingly offer up information on their school day, yet in this case they were fighting to be the first to tell me all they had learned about Ruby Bridges. (“She was six years old like us and she helped to change the laws!”) To their shock, I was unfamiliar with the story (and yes, I was embarrassed to be getting schooled by two six-year-olds!).

I want my children to understand that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is not just another day off from school. Here are some books we have enjoyed reading on the civil rights movement, all great for ages 4 – 8:

1. Boycott Blues by Andrea Davis Pinkney. The cadence of the text about Rosa Parks' unwillingness to give up her seat on the bus is blues-y. The story narrated by a dog features Jim Crow as a bird who pecks at people. The illustrations are vibrant.

2. This Is The Dream by Diane Shore & Jessica Alexander. This story in three parts uses rhythmic text to summarize the rules of segregation and many events that comprised the civil rights movement, and also provide a look at where are we now.

3. The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles. My children were so taken with the story of this heroic 6-year-old I had to learn more. Ruby faced angry crowds and an empty classroom to become the first to attend an all white school after desegregation in New Orleans. This is a great book to spark discussion!

4. We March by Shane Evans. You can feel the excitement and emotions through the pages of this first person narrative of a family getting ready to participate in the historic march. Colorful illustrations depict an inclusive diverse group of marchers.

Do you have a book on this topic that you felt was really great for young kids? Feel free to share in the comments below?