Cover To Cover…‘Child of the Civil Rights Movement’

What was your mama’s favorite thing to do when she was a kid your age?


If you ask her, she’ll probably tell you all about her favorite game and the toy she loved most. She might tell you stories about the trips she took with her family. She’ll remember books she loved, pets she owned, music she danced to, and she’ll tell you about them if you ask.

And some day, you’ll have the same kind of stories for your child, too.

In the new book, “Child of the Civil Rights Movement” by Paula Young Shelton and Raul Colón, a young girl relates one-of-a-kind memories of an event that changed our nation.

One day, when Paula’s father and mother were watching TV, they saw the Freedom Riders on the news, and they were angry to see the Riders’ bus on fire. They knew they needed to go south to help.

In the South, there were places that Paula’s family couldn’t go. Restaurants sent them away because of the color of their skin.

But there were places they could go, and that was fun. There was a swimming pool nearby, and other businesses owned by African-Americans. Whenever possible, people got together at Paula’s father and mother’s house. Even though they weren’t really related, Paula and her sisters considered everybody as family.

When it was time to host dinner at their house, Paula liked to sit on the floor of the dining room and listen to the voices as everybody talked about marching. All together, the voices sounded like music. And when it was time, there were more voices, marching for civil rights in places like Alabama, Mississippi, Flor­ida and Georgia. Paula marched, too, even though she was just a little girl. She was proud that someday, she’d be making changes of her own.

“Child of the Civil Rights Movement” is an interesting children’s book, mostly because the story practically begs to become an adult book.

As the daughter of civil rights leader Andrew Young, Shelton has many unique, kid’s-eye-view memories of various important figures and events in the Movement. While this may be of interest to a child, I think grownups will get way more out of Shelton’s story. Fortunately, while you’re enjoying her narrative, your kids will enjoy Colón’s illustrations.

I think “Child of the Civil Rights Movement” is a bit overly-wordy for squirmy toddlers but for kids ages six and up, it’s a great first-hand story.

If you’re looking for a mini-memoir as told from a kid’s POV, remember this one.

(“Child of the Civil Rights Movement” by Paula Young Shelton & Raul Colón c.2010, Schwartz & Wade Books, $17.99/$22.99 Canada, 48 pages)

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