It’s Black History Month and I am fortunate that our local library is full of engaged, enthusiastic librarians who curate amazing collections.
I wish I had taken a picture of their Black History Month display. I think my favorite part was the biography of Beyonce that was next to the biography of Maya Angelou. That mostly just made me smile. But, as usual, they knocked me out with their picture book selection.
This book is a few years old (2010) but it had escaped my attention until now. It’s called “Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down” by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney. The book paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in.
Four black college students, taking to heart Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words to “meet hate with love,” sat down at a lunch counter at a Woolworth’s department store in Greensboro, North Carolina on February 1, 1960. They sat, quietly and peacefully, waiting to be served coffee and doughnuts, knowing the policy was “Whites Only.”
The police came but did not do anything as they were just sitting, not violating any law. The restaurant closed instead of serving them. The next day more students joined them: polite, well-dressed, and peaceful. Protests spread to lunch counters all over the south. People grew angry and attacked the young people, but they did not respond. They continued to be peaceful. White students joined the protests, sitting in solidarity with their friends. The sheer numbers led to arrests, out of fear of what could happen. Boycotts and protests finally led to integration of many businesses, just so the businesses could stay alive. The book ends with a recipe for change and an excellent timeline of the Civil Rights movement.
I loved how Pinkney was able to distill challenging concepts like segregation into very simple, easy-to-understand words for elementary age students. Showing the students at the lunch counters doing homework reminded us that these were real kids, kids with every day lives, who were tired of the way things were. The interspersing of Dr. King’s words were powerful. The illustrations had a sketch-like quality with simple colors and bold lines.
This would be a great classroom book for elementary school teachers.
Other Picture Book Weekends books have included: Star Stuff, 365 Penguins and The Gigantic Turnip. Other posts about picture books have featured The Red Book, Dog Loves Drawing, and Iggy Peck, Architect.