Monday, April 7, 2014

American History Picture Books in 2012-2013 Post 5 of 5: Civil Rights, Hawai'i, Alaska, and Space Exploration

This is the fifth and last post in a series on the picture books we read along with our American History studies in 2012-2013 when First Son was in  third grade, First Daughter was in kindergarten, Second Daughter was four and Second Son wasn't paying attention.

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, illustrated by George Ford, is one of First Daughter's favorite books. Ruby is such a sweet and brave girl in the story.


Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper by Ann Malaspina, illustrations by Eric Velasquez, is the inspiring story of the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal (in 1948). The illustrations are wonderful and there are pictures of Alice on the last couple of pages. This is a great book to read when talking about sports, perseverance, racism, and hope.

Akiak: A Tale From the Iditarod by Robert J. Blake is the book we read to celebrate Alaska joining the United States. It's the exciting tale of a one dog who was determined to finish the grueling Iditarod, even after she was injured.

I really wanted to read a Hawai'ian history picture book to the girls to celebrate it as the fiftieth state, but I couldn't find anything appropriate at our library. I did give First Son The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Ka'iulani of Hawai'i by Fay Stanley, illustrated by Diane Stanley, to read independently before he made a notebook page of Princess Ka'iulani. The story of Hawai'i's annexation is a sad one, I think. This book is excellent, but is much more of a proper biography than a picture book, too detailed for the girls.

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier, is the biography I chose to read to the children. It's a little gritty for young children, but my girls didn't seem to mind. After our unit, I discovered I Have a Dream, which is one of my favorite picture books. We also read We March by Shane W. Evans, which gives a powerful witness not only to the March in 1963, but to our civic responsibilities and freedoms to peacefully demonstrate.

I've just recently discovered Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue, which tells of the friendship between a white boy and a black boy in 1964, after the Civil Rights Act passed into law. For older children, this could be a good introduction to a discussion about how changing the law was in some way just the beginning, that the struggle for real change meant changing hearts and attitudes.


Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney, is one of my favorite picture books. I think it puts Rosa Parks's actions in perspective for young children. We also have the book Rosa by Nikki Giovanni. I love Bryan Collier's illustrations in this book, but I think the text doesn't do Rosa Parks justice; she was an intelligent and savvy woman who coordinated with others an effort to force Montgomery to change.


Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin with paintings by Wendell Minor is an autobiography written for young children. I thought it was a little text heavy for my girls, so I asked First Son to read it independently before creating a notebook page on Buzz Aldrin. I enjoyed reading it myself and found it inspiring, as I'm sure the author intended. The illustrations are marvelous.

One Small Step: Celebrating the First Men On the Moon by Jerry Stone is full of bits of paper that unfold like a scrapbook. It's overflowing with information on the astronauts and the space program. It would have been too overwhelming to read out loud to the girls, but I put it in our book basket for First Son to peruse at his leisure.

Posts in This Series - I'll update this list with links to all the others after they post.
#1: Slavery and the Civil War
#2: Progressive Era and Immigration
#3: World War I, Women's Suffrage, and the 1920s
#4: The Great Depression and World War II
#5: Civil Rights, Hawai'i, Alaska, and Space Exploration (this post)

You can see some of the books we read on this era when First Son was in kindergarten here. In addition, you can find links to all the picture books we read through American history in 2009-2010, when First Son was in kindergarten. 

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