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Book Review
BIRMINGHAM 1963
How a Photograph Rallied Civil Rights Support
By Shelley Tougas
Published by Compass Point Book
ISBN 978-0-7565-4398-3 (library binding)
ISBN 978-0-7565-4446-1 (paperback)
64 Pages Age level: middle school and up

The idea of telling the story behind famous photos is a great idea. We get that here very well from author Shelley Tougas as she gives the background of the racial unrest of the 1960s.

The story is first centers on Carolyn Maull, a student at an elementary school in Birmingham, Alabama as she happens to be present at one of the demonstrations in that city in 1963. She becomes a part of the crowd, and then is photographed by Charles Moore when she and two other students are sprayed by hoses directed and operated by members of the fire department of the city. This photo became famous upon its depiction of the use of force against children in the civil rights demonstrations of those days.

The photo appeared in LIFE magazine, bringing the concept of children viewed as participants, victims and pawns in that whole racial upheaval. Mr. Moore’s other photography was there, but this one particular photo certainly brought a good deal notoriety to the nation.

The book does a good job of describing the events directly leading up to the day when Carolyn was sprayed, as well as events following. We meet the leaders of the civil rights movement, including the advocates such as Martin Luther King, JR and Ralph Abernathy. We meet those who wished to stop such movements, particularly Bull Connor; he being the one who decided to use fire hoses as crowd control tools. However, older background information would be good to know; we are only told in passing about Jim Crow laws. A few examples of these types of laws would be helpful for the reader to understand even better where this all started.

The book makes a good point out of the use of force; author Tougas also informs the reader about a demonstration in Georgia where the local authorities chose to peacefully monitor the demonstrations, which led to little public awareness. Without conflict or drama, says the author, there’s no newsworthy story to report. The use of children is addressed widely and fairly by the author – pointing out that both sides of the conflict struggled with using children one way or another – or using them at all. Presenting such an ethical dilemma is interesting for the reader to consider.

The book contains four ‘sidebar’ stories, highlighting different forces in the cause: Bull Connor, the Civil Rights Leaders, Mahatma Gandhi, and the KKK. It is here that the reader will learn specifics about these people and the effects they had upon the Civil Rights movement.

The book reads like a middle school textbook. There is little by way of character, but there is plenty of information to consider. The vocabulary might be a bit challenging at times, as is some of the more violent subject matter.

All photography is black and white, which serves to give a feeling for that era. The main photo appears on the cover of the book and in a few other places throughout, so the reader is aware of that photo in many cases as the story unfolds.

A useful timeline and a glossary are offered in the back of the book, along with an index.

As part of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, the following is required to be part of this blog:

multicultural Children’s Book Day

Mission: Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.

The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press.

Our CoHosts: We have NINE amazing Co-Hosts.
Africa to America
All Done Monkey
The Educators’ Spin on It
Growing Book by Book
InCultural Parent
Kid World Citizen
Mama Smiles
Multicultural Kid Blogs
Sprout’s Bookshelf

MCCBD’s 2015 Sponsors include Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold Sponsors: Satya House, MulticulturalKids.com, Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library Guild, Capstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books, The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing, Rainbow Books, Author FeliciaCapers, Chronicle Books Muslim Writers Publishing ,East West Discovery Press.

• A Special Thank You to the Children’s Book Council for their contribution and support.
We’re also partnering with First Book to offer a Virtual Book Drive that will help donate multicultural children’s books through their channels during the week of the event. We want to help get diversity books into the hands of kids who most need it and now we have a way to do it! The Virtual Book Drive is LIVE and can be found HERE.

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