Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Story of Ruby Bridges

Title: The Story of Ruby Bridges
Author: Robert Coles
Illustrator: George Ford
Reading Level: 2-5
The Story of Ruby Bridges is a non fiction book about a courageous little girl who stood up for her rights despite the racism that was geared toward her.  It was a time when New Orleans had not yet integrated black and white children in its schools.  Ruby Bridges was the first black child sent to an all white school called the William Frantz Elementary School.  On her very first day of school Ruby encountered a mob of protestors holding up “white only” signs and shouting at her.  White parents did not allow their children to attend school as a form of protest.  These extreme racist measures never deterred Ruby from going into the school and receiving her education.  In fact, she went to school all alone for quite some time before two white students finally joined her.  The angry mob of people were enraged that the white students went back to school.  However, eventually more of them began to notice that their children were missing out on their education and more students began to come back to the school.  Ruby’s valor helped her make history by helping white and black people come together.  
Element 3: Exploring Issues of Social Injustice
This would be a wonderful book to teach children about social injustice.  The book represents element three by showing a piece of the history of racism.  It shows the impact that racism had on people and how it affected them.  Children will learn about Ruby Bridges and all the hatred and bigotry that surrounded her when she was sent to an all white school.  By hearing Ruby Bridges’ story children will also learn about equality.  This is a very positive story to read for element three because in the end students get to see that Ruby succeeds in life- and that all her sacrifices were not done in vain. 
A good activity for this book would be one called corners.  In this activity you tape 4 words in the 4 corners of your classroom: patient, courageous, hopeful, and peaceful.  Then you have the students think about this question: What word that best describes Ruby Bridges? Ask students to decide which word they agree with most and ask them to stand in that corner. Make sure that the children know what each of the words mean before you expect them to successfully accomplish this activity. As a group, students should discuss their reasons behind choosing their word and then explain it to the rest of the class. Students will then write a letter telling Ruby Bridges why they think what she did was important. Letters will be handed in to the teacher, at the end of class, to look over and mail to:
Ruby Bridges
P. O. Box 870248
New Orleans, LA 70187

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