Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Learning Through Picture Books
- Selecting Civil Rights for Kids Book Titles
- Picture Book Inspires Theater and Animation
- Lots of Stops on Civil Rights Road Trips
- Montgomery Presents Civil Rights for Kids Experiences
- Hampton Illustrates Space and Civil Rights for Kids
- Birmingham is a Civil Rights Trail Within a Trail
- Jackson, Mississippi Tells Civil Rights for Kids Stories Too
- Choose a Route Demonstrating Civil Rights for Kids
- Expect New Books Too!
Road tripping, picture-book reading and museum hopping might be just the key to teaching the history of civil rights for kids. That’s because the High Museum of Art in Atlanta built an exhibition of children’s books with history, film and animation. It’s open until Nov. 8. Next stop? The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts in 2021.
How cool to see a favorite picture book come to life! Or 42 of them. That’s happening right now at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta — with the added benefit of teaching civil rights history to kids.
“Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement through Children’s Books” is a hefty title with a clear vision. This is it: Invite families to museums to experience history 65 years old and oh-so-relevant today. Do it with gorgeous, important picture books.
- Ruby Bridges was 6 years old when she helped integrate her community school. Illustrator George Ford, author Robert Coles for The Story of Ruby Bridges. Courtesy High Museum.
TravelingMom Tip: Download the High Museum family discussion guide to talk in the car and at home.
Learning Through Picture Books
“Children understand metaphor really well,” says artist Brian Pinkney whose images open all sorts of opportunities to talk about Civil Rights.
Readers of all ages might be surprised to learn he makes hundreds of sketches with his paintbrush as he reads and re-reads the words of a book he’ll illustrate. Some are written by his wife!
Interesting extra stuff to stumble across in well-curated museum exhibits.
Know anybody who hasn’t enjoyed Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar? It’s in 66 languages and Carle did all the design, writing and illustrations.
Selecting Civil Rights for Kids Book Titles
- Children of the Civil Rights Movement is a picture book and an up-close viewpoint. Jim Crow might have been a big black crow to children. Illustrator Raul Colon. Author Paula Young Shelton. Courtesy High Museum.
Filling the back seat with all 42 books for a road trip to the exhibition is quite possible. Download the “Picture the Dream” bibliography from the museum website.
Or watch the documentary on the road and select a few books after seeing what resonates in the museum. The documentary filmmakers Matthew and David Adeboye are brothers, and comfortable quoting their mom!
Kids can see kids in both the books and the film. Here are a few of the ways:
- Martin King III tells a bit of his childhood story in the film, growing up with is dad, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- The Story of Ruby Bridges tells a little girl’s real story of integrating her elementary school in New Orleans. Author Robert Coles, illustrator George Ford.
- Audrey Faye Hendricks is the focus of The Youngest Marcher, A Young Civil Rights Activist. She was 9, growing up in Birmingham, Alabama. Author Cynthia Levinson, illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton.
- Emmett Till was just 14 when he was lynched visiting relatives in Mississippi. A Wreath for Emmett Till tells his story. Author Marilyn Nelson, illustrator Philippe Lardy
- White Water: Inspired by a True Story is about growing up in Alabama. Authors Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein, illustrator Shadra Strickland
- When teenager Lynda Blackmon Lowery joined the march to Selma, she had been arrested 11 times and was the youngest person there. Her memoir is Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March. Illustrator PJ Loughran
- Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down is a picture book set in Greensboro, North Carolina, and so much more. Author Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrator Brian Pinkney.
Picture Book Inspires Theater and Animation
- A picture book about Civil Rights history became a play for theater and then an animation film to live stream. Photo courtesy High Museum. Artist Brian Pinkney.
The picture book about friends sitting in at the Woolworth lunch counter, Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, inspired playwright Pearl Cleage to write a play for young audiences. The power of youth to change history is the theme.
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Live stream the animated version of “Sit-In” beginning in late October. Reservations required.
With music from the Civil Rights movement and new songs composed for “Sit-In,” the animation features three friends learning about those sit-ins and pondering what they mean today.
“Sit-ins weren’t out loud,” says author Andrea Davis Pinkney. “They were quiet.
“It’s not always what you say but how. Loud does not just mean screaming.”
Lots of Stops on Civil Rights Road Trips
- Road tripping families today might discuss the decades when families of color followed a book outlining safe spots to go. Image courtesy illustrator Floyd Cooper for Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey. Courtesy High Museum.
Atlanta and Amherst museum exhibitions aren’t the only places to amplify “Picture the Dream” books. How about road trips to the places in those 42 books? TravelingMoms have visited them.
When you go, think about the Negro Motorist Green Book, a directory of safe stops for families of color, published annually from 1936 to 1966. This history was the basis for “Green Book,” a movie starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali that won the Best Picture Oscar at the 2019 Academy Awards.
Road trips lend to family chats about the challenges of traveling while Black before Civil Rights movements created some change.
The “Picture the Dream” bibliography includes Ruth and the Green Book.”Author Calvin Alexander Ramsey, illustrator Floyd Cooper.
Montgomery Presents Civil Rights for Kids Experiences
- Rosa Parks in bronze sculpture affords opportunities to discuss her refusal to give up a seat on the bus. Photo courtesy TravelingMom Christine Tibbetts
Montgomery, Alabama is one of many destinations to consider.
Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation is set there. The “Sit-In” husband-wife author-illustrator Pinkney team produced this one too.
What do the places of the Civil Rights movement feel like? Those feelings are what picture book creators actually create!
“I know what they taught me in school in New York,” says illustrator Bryan Collier. “But I had to experience for myself.” He illustrated stories about Montgomery, and many other locations.
“I needed to experience for myself what that bus Rosa Parks rode felt like. I had to feel the heat of the South. I had to see what the sky she walked under looked like.
“What would I feel in the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, the picture book and real-life church where Dr. King preached?”
Family travel’s like that too. Fun, for sure, but with potential to experience deeply.
Hampton Illustrates Space and Civil Rights for Kids
Hampton, Virginia is the setting for Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race.
What a great place to learn too about NASA at the Air & Space visitor center for Langley Research Center where those hidden figures worked with little notice.
Take a spin next door on the 1920s beautifully restored carousel.
Birmingham is a Civil Rights Trail Within a Trail
- Four little girls died in a church bombing and Birmingham adds inspiration and hope in telling that history with sculpture. Photo courtesy TravelingMom Christine Tibbetts
Birmingham travel calls for reading The Youngest Marcher. Then stand with the kids in Kelly Ingram Park near the sculpture honoring four little girls killed in a bombing at their church across the street.
Have the kids look left to see the church where the bomb exploded. Then have them look right to see artistic evidence of the dogs and fire hoses threatening children and families.
Look across that Birmingham street and head to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. TravelingMom Sarah Ricks shares solid advice for Civil Rights experiences.
Jackson, Mississippi Tells Civil Rights for Kids Stories Too
Shield children from tough stories or talk about the honest realities in multiple settings at the Jackson, Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
Thoughtful curators and historians here use private alcoves for real footage about the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, allowing families choice and privacy.
Colorful, open, airy spaces with music and art to gather thoughts and expand understanding. “This Little Light of Mine” plays a role.
Choose a Route Demonstrating Civil Rights for Kids
Build a travel itinerary with the geography of each book in “Picture the Dream.” That doesn’t mean 42 destinations because story settings overlap.
Or, follow the Civil Rights Trail and match books to the places you stop.
“What happened here changed the world” is the Civil Rights Trail’s motto.
Fourteen states partnered in 2018 to help travelers discover churches and courthouses, neighborhoods and parks, city streets and country roads, professional museums and individual people. Today there are 15 states on the Trail.
Why would a family visit a courthouse on vacation? To give history additional substance.
For instance, if the kids study Brown vs. Board of Education and see the Tuttle Courthouse in Atlanta, reality sets in just a bit more. Multiple legal decisions were declared there, reinforcing the 1954 landmark U. S. Supreme Court case declaring racial segregation in schools unconstitutional.
Lots of picture books are set in Atlanta, including three cartoon-style novels by the late U. S. Rep. John Lewis with Andrew Aydin. March: Book One starts with Lewis’s boyhood in Troy, Alabama, where he practiced preaching in front of the family chickens.
Planning a “Picture the Dream” Civil Rights journey can be family interactive. The Trail website has maps to plot big routes or individual cities.
Website information is crisp, and putting check marks by what’s intriguing leads easily to printed lists and itineraries.
You’ll make it even more robust matching picture books to places.
Expect New Books Too!
Loretta is 12 when this just-published picture book begins. She’s a sharecropper’s daughter in the 1920s in Mississippi, giving a girl’s voice to the inequities her family experienced.
Loretta Little Looks Back, available for purchase on September 29, 2020, jumps a generation to the Jim Crow-era experiences of Loretta’s much younger sibling Roly and then to the 1960s. That’s when the Little family daughter Aggie joins voter registration drives and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
Expect oral storytelling in this picture book—monologues and free-verse poems and stories of resilience.
Loretta Little Looks Back Author Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrator Brian Pinkney