sitting in for change

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, I wanted to try and bring some books about civil rights into J’s reading rotation. Since I also know that getting her to read anything other than Harry Potter and Land of Stories would be a challenge, I thought that I needed some kind of hook to entice her. I found two books about the Greensboro sit-in that fit the bill. We live an hour and a half from Greensboro and two of J’s favorite museums are there, so we were starting from a place of knowledge. The hook worked.

The first book we read, Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, was a true non-fiction telling of the four men who began the lunch-counter sit-in in 1960. With wonderful repetition it explains how they quietly sat at the counter and wanted only a doughnut and coffee with cream on the side. They followed Dr. King’s words and sat tall while insults were hurled at them. The book was especially powerful when it told how they sat quietly while milkshakes were thrown in their faces and ketchup was poured on their heads. The book is filled with amazing quotes in larger fonts that also teach the lesson of the Greensboro sit-ins.

“We must…meet hate with love.” 
“Being loving enough to absorb evil.”
“We must meet violence with nonviolence.”
“We are all leaders.”

The students started a nonviolent revolution that helped change a nation. This book shows how young people can truly make a difference. It was a powerful book that was great for my first grader to comprehend.

The other book that we picked up, Freedom on the Menu, was a fictionalized telling of the events around the sit-ins. As the front cover says, they “offer a child’s-eye view of how ordinary citizens stood up for themselves and caused a revolution, both close to home and far beyond.”  The story is told from a little girl’s perspective and how devastating it was for her to find signs all over town telling her where she could and couldn’t go. A dream of hers is to be able to sit at the lunch counter and order a banana split just like the little white girls.  Dr. King comes to town and soon after that, her brother and sister joined the NAACP, and they all went door to door to register people to vote.The little girl and her mother happened to be in Woolworths on the first day of the sit-ins and recognized the boys as friends of her brother. When the little girl questions that the boys should know not to sit there, her mother responds that “Some rules have to be broken.” The little girl has other questions and her family answers them in wonderful ways that a child can comprehend. This was a truly moving story which happily ends with the little girl getting her banana split.

This post is a part of Kid Lit Frenzy’s nonfiction picture book Wednesdays. We have currently read 7 non-fiction picture books this year, out of our goal of 50, but I’m holding off on reviewing some of them until upcoming Wednesdays.

Also, I am firmly standing behind Multicultural Children’s Book Day:Celebrating Diversity in Children’s. It is important for our children to the full rainbow that makes up our world. January 27th is Multicultural Children’s Book Day. For more information about Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Celebrating Diversity in Children’s Literature, please check out Jump Into a Book and Pragmatic Mom. The mission of this event is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. The event itself is sponsored by Wisdom Tales PressLee & Low BooksChronicle Books, and Susan Daniel Fayad: Author of My Grandfather’s Masbaha.


Leave a Reply