Thursday, October 4, 2012

Shelf Life [kids]


Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story, By Ruby Bridges, 30 pages. 
@ SPL:  JE Bridg  
Although it will seem incredible to children today, there was a time when black children and white children could not attend the same school in some areas of the United States.
Ruby Bridges grew up in New Orleans during that time.
She attended kindergarten in an all-black school far from her home, although William Frantz Elementary, an all-white school, was much closer.
The American government had recently declared that black children were to be allowed in every school, and on November 14, 1960, her mother took Ruby, now a grade one student, to the William Frantz School. For their safety, they were accompanied by five marshals.
They were met by a noisy, threatening crowd as they neared the school and went in, but Ruby wasn’t afraid. In the following days, every other student in Ruby’s class was withdrawn from the school, and she was left alone with her teacher. However, they became good friends. Ruby enjoyed learning and Mrs. Henry helped her to deal with the difficult experience of being ostracized.
Gradually, the other children began to return to the classroom, and Ruby made many friends among them.
In subsequent years, children from many black families were able to attend the school without controversy.
Today, Ruby is a confident mother of four sons who has returned to the William Frantz Elementary School as a volunteer. She is not bitter about her childhood experience there, and she has made numerous public speaking presentations, accompanied by Mrs. Henry, her grade one teacher. Ruby’s inspiring story has been the subject of books, a movie and at least one song, and her first day at William Frantz School was the subject of a famous Norman Rockwell painting,entitled “The Problem We All Live With”.
In this book, Ruby’s compelling story is retold as an “easy reader” for beginning readers, complete with photos.
It’s important that people of all ages are aware of the segregation which once existed in the United States and of the efforts by people like Ruby to end it.
** Recommended for ages five to eight years.
Straight Talk About Racism and Prejudice, By Marguerite Rodger and Jessie Rodger, 48 pages.
@ SPL:  J 305.8 Rod
Racism and prejudice still exist in society today. Too often, people are treated unfairly and unequally because of race, culture, religion, sexual orientation or abilities.
Regardless of why racism occurs, it is never right or just.
Racism and hate are destructive in so many ways to societies and to individuals. Studies have actually shown that for victims, the stresses of dealing with constant discrimination and oppression can lead to long-term effects such as heart disease or mental illnesses.
For children, it’s often difficult to separate fact from fiction, especially when they hear someone they trust making racist statements. The purpose of this book is to help children understand what racism is, why it’s wrong, and how they can play a part in changing society to one that accepts and embraces people’s differences. As Ruby Bridges once said, “Racism is a grown-up disease and we must stop using our children to spread it.”
The authors ask readers to imagine, for example, that they are being rejected from joining in some fun on the schoolyard simply because they have green eyes instead of brown or blue. How would that feel?
The authors also point out that in fact, everyone is different in some way – which is what makes each of us an individual.
The “Straight Talk About” books, a new series published in Canada for students, will address various other complex social issues in an unbiased, honest and easy-to-understand style.
** Recommended for ages 10 to 13 years.
These reviews appeared in The Stratford Gazette on October 4, 2012. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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