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Monday, January 9, 2012

Awareness = Questions

This week and next we are reading aloud picture books that tell the stories of discrimination and civil rights. For the intermediate students, Andrea Davis Pinkney's Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down is the chosen book. The fourth graders in my first class had already heard it (recommended by me to their teacher after we read a related book), so Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey (and softly illustrated by Floyd Cooper) was the choice. They were mesmerized! Ruth's dad purchases a sea-mist green 1952 Buick, and they gasped at the color. Their family leaves Chicago to visit relatives in the southern states, soon discovering that they are not welcome at gas stations, motels, restrooms, and diners. The children gasped again. As Ruth's story unfolds, along with the use of "The Negro Motorist Green Book" by Victor Green, they were captivated by how the family found caring individuals to satisfy their traveling needs.

When I finished reading, one usually distracted child raised her hand and asked, "Why did the white people treat the black people that way? I don't understand." My colleague and I could give no reason. The other children vehemently agreed that it made no sense. Their awareness of something unjust and new to them created a subdued atmosphere as they looked for books.


  1. i am filled with gratitude and awe that contemporary children ask this question. we still have a long way to go, but we've come a long way since i was a child.

  2. Today, Brattcat, a third grader approached me after the reading and said,
    "It's just simple skin color! How hard is it to accept someone who is different than you?"
    It brought tears to my eyes.