Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - The Teachers March blog tour - 9.16.2020

Wednesdays I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
#kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog post is to give professionals that work in the
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

I grew up in the 1980s.  The bulk of my education, or I guess the formative years, happened in the 80s and early 90s.  I enjoyed 8th grade Social Studies.  That year we really dug into the events of the 1900s.  The World Wars, the Vietnam War, and a little bit of the Civil Rights times.  But of course, what I didn't know at that time, was how white-washed my history textbooks were.  The events of the past were taught to me by white educators.  While I remember Brown vs. the Board of Education, and Ruby Bridges, and Rosa Parks, I'm not sure I really learned about the March on Selma, or Bloody Sunday, or the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The real history was explained to me more recently through the picture books and middle grade books and graphic novels I've chosen to read.

History, and the way it's being taught, needs to change.

Because we are still living through our past.  The Civil Rights era never ended.  Systemic racism has continued to grow and flourish through the decades thanks to policies and politics that are designed to keep power in the hands of white people.

But I have hope.

Because after the killing of George Floyd, I saw the young people rise.  They came out in droves during a pandemic and marched, and took a knee, and raised fists.  They said "stop" and "no more" and "not one more".  I have a lot of hope that the young people will continue to use their voice and move their feet and say "no more" and make changes.

And that's why books like this are needed.  They need to be read and discussed and shared.  They need to be ordered and displayed.  Because those young people are in our libraries and our classrooms.  Because they need to hear these stories that weren't told, and probably still aren't being told in textbooks.  Because they need to see that they aren't the first and they can build upon what has already been done.

The Teachers March!  How Selma's Teachers Changed History
written by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace
illustrated by Charly Palmer
published by Calkins Creek
Sept. 29th, 2020

A story that might be new to you - it was for me.  Weeks before Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis and many others marched in Selma, the teachers of Selma marched.  Led by Rev. F.D. Reese, educators in Selma were encouraged to march to the courthouse to demand for their right to vote.  At that time, Blacks were not only allowed to not vote, they couldn't even register to vote and if they tried, they often met the end of the sheriff's billy club.  Of course, with the decision to march, educators feared for their jobs, feared for who would take care of their children while they were in jail, and feared for their lives.  Retribution by the police force for taking part in a march like this would be swift.  Buoyed by the words and support of Dr. King, the teachers of Selma marched, all the way to the courthouse.  

Right now in the 4th grade we are studying citizenship and how to become a responsible citizen.  This book is being published at a perfect time.  We can read it to learn more about history, but also notice and note how the Selmians exercised their liberties to stand up for equal rights.  How they did so in a peaceful manner, but one that let all see and know that they would not back down, they would not go away.  Earlier in this unit the teachers read The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson - I think this will be a perfect follow-up to that book and conversation!

When you have the opportunity to read and share this book, don't go too quickly over the backmatter.  The note from the authors' include important first-hand accounts from Rev. F.D. Reese, and the daughter of educator Lula "Too Sweet" Parrish, Joyce Parrish O'Neal.  Illustrator, Charly Palmer (Mama Africa!) also includes a note explaining his creative process, which included restaging multiple scenes from the time period.  Also included is a timeline, photographs, bibliography, and primary source videos.

Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace are award-winning writers of nonfiction titles including First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrants and Refugees Who Make America Great and Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and His Sacrifice for Civil Rights, which won the International Literacy Association's Social Justice Award and a YALSA Award nomination for Excellence in Nonfiction. Sandra's picture-book biography Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Football Field to the Art Gallery is the NCTE 2019 Orbis Pictus winner for Outstanding Nonfiction.

Charly Palmer
 is an award-winning graphic designer and illustrator. He also teaches design, illustration, and painting, most recently at Spelman College. His two recent picture books are There's a Dragon in My Closet and Mama Africa, which won the 2018 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award.

1 comment:

  1. I just requested this from my library, Michele! I know what you mean about our history learning. No one mentioned anyone's plight, especially that of black people. In my early grade school, though, my grandmother fought for our school to integrate in the small town where I lived (we moved to the city when I was going into 7th grade) and it was integrated! I am proud of her fight, but it was long after that that finally others did. Students need to know this history!