Filling Up a Concept: Black History Month

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Discrimination, equality, dignity, and justice are abstract, intangible concepts, and some would say that they are beyond the reach of small children — completely inaccessible to the sippy cup and board book set.

But story is an effective conveyance of meaning and The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and The Story of Rosa Parks (Worthy Press, 2017) have anchored these abstract concepts in the bedrock of real situations with vivid pictures that bring them to life.  Concrete descriptions of discrimination are given context against familiar backdrops:  restaurants and schools, water fountains and crowded buses.

While it is true that some of the story details around dates and places will be lost on the tiniest story lovers, astute parents will explain what Rosa did when she worked as a “seamstress,” and that the day Martin spoke to a crowd of “more than 200,000 people,” he was talking to the number of people who live in a medium-sized city.  They will share the fact that this February would have been Rosa’s 104th birthday — that if Martin had lived, he would be the age of a very old grandpa.

Set within the narrative arc of a key historical figure’s life, justice looks like fairness – a concept near and dear to the heart of every child.  Intangible virtues of vision and courage are filled up with meaning by stories of a quiet woman stepping out of her comfort zone and into danger and a small boy imagining what it would be like to eat at any restaurant or to drink from any water fountain.

And in this tumultuous year of devastating news and untethered violence, parents can use a dose of unquenchable optimism portrayed in short stories that transport us back to our history of hope.  We all need the reminder that Rosa and America did win.  Martin’s dream did flourish.  His hopes saw daylight, and because of the bold actions of those who ushered in the civil rights movement, we celebrate.

Black History Month marks our resolve that America must continue to win Rosa’s fight for equality, dignity, and justice.  All that has been accomplished in the past pours meaning into the challenge for renewed vision.  Remembering and sharing stories of courage and commitment reinforces — with urgency — the conviction that Martin’s dream must live on.

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This book was provided by Worthy Publishing Group in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Michele Morin

I am a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. I have been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 27 years, and our four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Nonetheless, two teens still remain at home, and along with an incorrigible St. Bernard, we laugh, make messes, clean them up, and then start all over again. I love hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop me in my tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. I lament biblical illiteracy and advocate for the prudent use of "little minutes." I blog at Living Our Days because "the way I live my days will be, after all, the way I live my life." You can connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

10 thoughts on “Filling Up a Concept: Black History Month”

  1. My daughter (who is a little older than the audience for the books you feature) just finished a book on Nelson Mandela, and now she’s reading one on Rev. Dr. M. L. King. She says in amazement, “[My Playmate Next Door] wouldn’t have even been able to live next to me then!”

    Since she was unaware of racism (we homeschool and she has lots of playmates of different ethnicities), I waited till she was a little older to let her know of this age old problem.

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  2. I’m glad to see books on these topics available for younger readers. I need to begin building our collection of kids’ non-fiction books. I’ll have to include “biographies” like these.

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  3. I really like this series of board books! We had the Easter one and one about St. Patrick, but I hadn’t seen these yet. Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!
    Tina

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