20+ Books About Civil Rights

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The civil rights era comes alive in these excellent, informative books for kids of all ages. From beautifully illustrated picture books to memoirs that depict the Jim Crow South to biographies of heroes of the civil rights movement, these books show what life was like before civil rights, why individuals put their lives on the line for equal justice and opportunity, and how there's still more work to be done.
20+ Books About Civil Rights

Rosa

By Nikki Giovanni

Age 4+

Spectacular illustrations spotlight Parks' historic protest.

I Have a Dream

By Kadir Nelson

Age 6+

Stunning art amplifies meaning of King's words for kids.

Stella by Starlight

By Sharon M. Draper

Age 9+

Compelling, nuanced tale of loving family under segregation.

Brown Girl Dreaming

By Jacqueline Woodson

Age 10+

Excellent poems depict coming-of-age in tumultuous 1960s.

I Have a Dream

By Martin Luther King

Age 11+

A treasured speech seen in a vibrant new light.

One Crazy Summer

By Rita Williams- Garcia

Age 11+

A gem, with strong girl characters, '60s black history.

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A few books about civil rights from Boyds Mills Press, Highlights' own publishing house:

 Rosa's Bus
Rosa's Bus

By Jo S. Kittinger; illustrated by Steven Walker

Ages 7+

The story of the bus--and the passengers who changed history. Like all buses in Montgomery, Alabama, in the 1950s, bus #2857 was segregated: white passengers sat in the front and black passengers sat in the back. Bus #2857 was an ordinary public bus until a woman named Rosa Parks, who had just put in a long day as a seamstress, refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. Her arrest sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a major event in the Civil Rights moment, led by a young minister named Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For 382 days, black passengers chose to walk rather than ride the buses in Montgomery. From the streets of Montgomery to its present home in the Henry Ford Museum, here is the remarkable story, a recipient of the Crystal Kite Award, of a bus and the passengers who changed history.

Voices from the March on Washington
Voices from the March on Washington

by J. Patrick Lewis, George Ella Lyon

Ages 10+

The powerful poems in this poignant collection weave together multiple voices to tell the story of the March on Washington, DC, in 1963. From the woman singing through a terrifying bus ride to DC, to the teenager who came partly because his father told him, “Don’t you dare go to that march,” to the young child riding above the crowd on her father’s shoulders, each voice brings a unique perspective to this tale. As the characters tell their personal stories of this historic day, their chorus plunges readers into the experience of being at the march—walking shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, hearing Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech, heading home inspired.

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