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Five Books To Help Children Understand Protests

This year my eight year old participated in his first protest. His school organized a protest in support of Black Lives Matter where they kneeled for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time that officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck. While I’ve had to explain Black Lives Matter and police brutality to my son in more depth this year, it wasn’t his first time hearing about protesting.

I’ve spent a lot of time curating our Black History children’s book collection and I always pick up books that show Black people resisting oppression. Here are five of my favorites that introduce the idea of protest to children and even show them their place in the space.

At only nine-years-old Audrey Faye Hendricks, became the youngest known child to be arrested during the 1963 civil rights protests. This book is a first person account from Hendricks on what motivated her to participate in the march despite knowing she would be jailed.

Dressed in her Sunday’s best and carrying a board game to keep her company while she was jailed, Hendricks was confident and brave, as she marched for her freedom.

Told from the perspective of eight-year-old Connie who is too young to participate in the infamous Greensboro sit-ins, children learn what it was like to constantly see signs telling them where they can and can’t go. They’ll follow Connie’s account of helping her older brother and sister make signs for the protests and her contribution to the movement since her parents wouldn’t let her march.

This book is a great way to show children that we all have a role to play in activism whether it’s marching, making signs, or bailing those jailed out of jail.

Child of the Civil Rights Movement gives readers a view of Civil Rights from Paula Young Shelton, daughter of Civil Rights activist Andrew Young. Shelton gives us a look into the movement from her perspective as a child. From eavesdropping during dinner conversations when Uncle Martin (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr) visited, to the historic march from Selma to Montgomery. This children’s book is great for kids who are growing up around activists and looking to one day find their place in the movement.

This children’s book focuses on the historic children’s march for Civil Rights in 1963 Birmingham, Alabama. Thousands of Black children volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr speak.

These children knew they might be jailed but they insisted in participating in protesting laws that segregated Black and white people. In the end, they braved police dogs, water hoses, and jail to fight for their freedom.

March is perfect for older kids who are graphic novel enthusiasts. This trilogy is John Lewis’ first-hand account of his lifelong dedication to civil and human rights. Book One starts with a young Lews in rural Alabama and takes you through the meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr that changed his life.

If you’re wanting to introduce your children to nonviolent protest, this is a great stepping stone that teaches them from one of the greatest Civil Rights leaders of our life.

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