Carole Gill, Children’s and Young Adult Librarian
Buckley Public Library
Buckley Public Library will be open on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 16, though many schools and businesses will be closed. What better time to reflect on the racial and class injustice that was a part of United States history, and the cultural and political changes this iconic leader was instrumental in bringing about in his time, as well as other non-violent movements and heroes. We invite patrons of all ages to visit the library with your younger children, older kids and teens to select related items. “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
A great number of non-fiction items are available for all ages. Younger children, will find biographies of Dr. King and others active in the American Civil Rights struggles. Examples include “Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Doreen Rappaport and “Coretta Scott”, written as poetry by Ntozake Shange. These oversized picture book biographies are easy to understand and beautiful to see. The Juvenile biographies of Rosa Parks, who held her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama public bus, and Claudette Colvin, presents yet two other young champions willing to endure great personal risks for the long term goal of equality.
“The Other Side” is a picture book by Jacqueline Woodson in which two families, divided by a fence and prejudice, try to keep apart two young ladies longing to be friends. Jacqueline is one of several gifted writers that focuses on the perspective and concerns of populations of color. Among the others are Patricia McKissack who writes primarily for the middle grades and Walter Dean Myers, whose gripping Young Adult novels give many perspectives on the challenges of growing up as an African American. There are many fiction and non-fiction books about the struggles of minority athletes, such as “Satch and Me: A Baseball card Adventure” and the biographies of Jesse Owens.
“Pink and Say” is also a quick read by Patricia Pollaco. It is based on an oral story from the Civil War in which two young soldiers, one a badly wounded Caucasian, one of African decent, are separated from their fellow soldiers and must trust each other and work together to survive.
There are numerous anthologies or story collections that can help us make wise choices and form healthy attitudes when dealing with those of different race and culture. “The Dangerous Book for Boys” is an example.
Wonderful back issues of magazines such as “Cobblestone,” a children’s history magazine, and “Discovery for Kids,” a periodical that selects a single theme and approaches it from many directions, can bring new understandings and insights to all of us.
There are so many non-fiction books for the young that are ‘slices’ of history: Freedom Walkers: the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Russell Freedman and “Going to School During the Civil Rights Movement” are examples.
The Coretta Scott King awards, presented since the 1970s to outstanding African American Authors and illustrators, featuring African American subjects, fiction and non-fiction, are given annually by the American Library Association. Buckley Public Library has the majority of these books as well. At Buckley, we can provide you with that list.
Older children, teens and adults, how long has it been since you've read “To Kill a Mockingbird” or watched the film based on the book? Buckley also has the non-fiction Juvenile biography, “I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee”, whose character is an integral part of that story. Less known but still important the young adult novel “Slave Dancer,” a Newberry Award winner, describes life on a slave ship as seen by the -hijacked?[kidnapped] teen whose job it was to play for the slaves' forced dancing.
“Amazing Grace: the inspirational Stories of William Wilberforce, John Newton and Olaudah Equiano” is an excellent audio book and “Amazing Grace” the video is based on the same story, both available at Buckley.
Other racial and social struggles around the world are represented in the excellent story, “Rabbit Proof Fence,” based on true experience, which deals with the misuse and struggle of the Australian aborigines. “Cry, the Beloved Country,” available on a ‘playaway’ format, allows us to experience a part of life in South Africa as Apartheid is beginning.
This is but a small sampling of books in this area. Do come by and make your own choices while it is happening @ Buckley.