Title: Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down
Author: Andrea Davis Pinkney
Illustrator: Brian Pinkney
SJE: Element 4 - Social Movements and Social Change
Grade Level: 3rd-5th
Where to buy Sit-In
About the author
Sit-In is the story of how four African American college students inspired a movement to change the segregation they faced whenever they went to a public place. David, Joseph, Franklin, and Ezell were sick of being discriminated against and with some inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. they decided they were going to do something about it. Day after day they sat at the "Whites Only" counter at the Woolworth, placing their order but never getting served. People began to notice the boys and others started to join them; some of their white friends from school even joined in their peaceful protest. As news spread so did the sit-ins. People began staging their own sit-ins in other southern states. These peaceful protests continued even in the face of abuse from angry whites who would throw food at them. Eventually the protests spread to other public places such as buses and libraries too. Finally, in 1963 President John F. Kennedy took notice and encouraged Americans to be treat each other fairly, which opened the door for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which legally banned segregation.
Element 4: Social Movements and Social Change
This book represents the fourth element of SJE because it tells the story of a group of ordinary people beginning a social movement to create change in their community. I think this story might resonate with children because while college students are significantly older than elementary school students they are still students, which may allow the students to feel more connected to the characters rather than if it were a group of "adults." I also appreciate how the book emphasizes the fact that the protesters remained peaceful no matter what they faced. I think it is important to show students that you can make a stand for something without being loud or aggressive; this story creates a good counter point to some of the protests students may be exposed to through the media.
After completing a real aloud and a discussion of the book I would ask students to think of problems in their community that they would like to change such as bullying, immigration laws, LGBT equality, etc. After brainstorming a list of problems the class would vote on the one that they would most like to change. Once the class decides on a problem to focus on students would form groups and brainstorm ideas on how they could take a step toward changing this problem. Finally, each group would pick on of the ideas they came up with and develop a plan to carry out their idea. If the ideas are feasible the class could pick one or two to actually carry out as a class.