Title: Through My Eyes
Author: Ruby Bridges
Reading level: Ages 8 to 12
Independent bookseller purchase.
Through My Eyes is an autobiography by Ruby Bridges. She tells her story as the first black student to be integrated into an all white school in the city of New Orleans. Ruby tells about her family lineage as sharecroppers and farmers. The reader hears about Ruby's family's move to a segregated neighborhood in New Orleans, and her attending a segretated school for the first year of her schooling there. She was one of only a few black students to pass a test to be a part of the first wave of integration for her first grade year. The family faced a dilemma about whether or not Ruby should be a part of integration. Eventually they decided to send her.
Ruby tells of the nastiness of the protests against integration that she faced (face to face) by white families of white students and by white members of the community. She also tells of the brave support shown by her white teacher and some other white families. In retrospect, Ruby realize that she was used as an instrument by civil rights activists and the NAACP, but is ultimately happy that it happened the way it did. She carries on today as a symbol of the racial progress that she helped pioneer.
Element four - Social Movements and Social Change:
Ruby Bridges does a good job of framing her experiences as a 6 year old being integrated into an all white school within the context of the greater African-American Civil Rights Movement. She gives ample background knowledge of the student integrationists that helped pave the way for her, and of the social upheavel that gripped the city and nation in the face of desegregation as it was accomplished by the civil rights movement.
How to use Through My Eyes:
I think Through My Eyes is a brilliant book to use because it is told as a retrospective of the experiences of an ordinary, young, school-aged child who served as an embodiment of a transcendent social movement. Students can easily identify with Ruby. I think the fact that the book is non-fiction is a nice change of pace, and makes it a good resources for social studies lessons. Also the photojournalism photography is powerful and offer opportunities for good jump off lessons. The book can be used for lessons on genre and audience.