Tuesday, January 24, 2017


The magnitude of the recent Women’s marches across our country and around our globe have lit up the media and inspired conversations in families all across the country and world.

Stories of people who have risen in dissent and stood up for their rights are inspiring to middle-graders, who are keenly aware of issues of justice and fairness.

These books provide can also inspiration for us as writers. Can we imagine a character caught up in one of these pivotal moments in history? On what side of the ideological divide is our character, and her/his family? Does the action cause a rift among family or peers? Is our character thrust into the spotlight as a leader, or does she become emboldened as she learns more about the matters at hand? Sharing history with kids is a great way to fill our own wells as writers.

Here are some recommended titles:

 Hoose, Phillip. M. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. New York: Melanie Kroupa Books, 2009. Claudette is an impassioned and brave teenager who stands up to fight against Jim Crow laws in Montgomery Alabama, nine months before Rosa Parks’ action burst into national consciousness. A good story to explore the reasons why some voices become celebrated and other lost to history.

Levinson, Cynthia. We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March. Atlanta: Peachtree, 2012. A dense and richly detailed photo-history of the Children’s March, following the points of view of participants and witnesses to history.

Lewis, John. The March Trilogy. Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions, 2013-16.
An amazing graphic novel in three parts that tells the first-hand account of U.S. Rep. John Lewis's fight for civil rights and racial justice. Just this week, March Book Three won four awards at the ALA Awards: the Coretta Scott King medal, the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young-adult literature; the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award; and the YALSA Award for excellence in young-adult nonfiction. In addition, it won the National Book Award in November!

Partridge, Elizabeth. Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don't you Grow Weary. New York: Viking/Penguin, 2009. A beautiful non-fiction photo history of the civil rights march in Selma in 1965. Contains outstanding photographs and a day-by-day chronological organization.

Pohlen, Jerome. Gay and Lesbian History for Kids. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2016. A photo-history tracing lesbian and gay lives and rights through the 1900s into the present day, with a brief chapter on ancient history. Lively and current.

Scandiffio, Laura. Fight to Learn: The Struggle to Go to School. Toronto: Annick Press, 2016. A non-fiction look at the many reasons young people are unable or find it difficult to get to school and get their education, including poverty, discrimination, and violence. In a global approach, details stories of kids dodging gang violence in Chicago to Roma children in Italy to children in Somalia and First Nations kids in Canada. Filled with photographs and details in a readable format.

Weatherford, Carole Boston. Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement. Illus. Ekua Holmes. Somerville: Candlewick Press, 2015. A book of poems showing the childhood and development of Fannie Lou Hamer as a civil rights leader and icon.

A family at the Women's March in Washington DC
The wide participation of families in the marches around the country and across the globe show us that children are attuned to issues of justice and fairness. I hope these books inspire the young readers in your life as well as light a few sparks for you as a writer for children and teens!


  1. Such a timely post! Thanks for sharing books on a topic that is so hot for our country right now, as we navigate new waters. Great to also use as a discussion guide for kids as well to relate to what is going on in their world right now.

  2. The saddest part of all this is that the left has no tolerance for the right, and the right has no tolerance for the left. When in reality, they both have more in common than are different. Perhaps a few stories about what we have in common, and less teaching hate to our children--on both side--is in order.


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!