Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thursday Three: Black History for Kids

I kept trying to come up with good adult books encompassing Black History Month in one way or another, and all I could come up with were books just about everyone has already read.  While I still highly recommend them (e.g. The Help, To Kill a Mockingbird), I figured I would focus on some kids books instead.  When I started this post, I didn't intend to pick all Newbery winners, but alas that is what I did anyway.  The Newbery committee is notorious for favoring historical fiction, so it isn't that much of a stretch that some of what I consider to be the best kids books embodying black history are the same that others have likewise chosen.
This fun story, set during the Great Depression, won the 2000 Newbery Medal.  It is the story of a young boy riding the rails, looking for his long lost father.  After his mother dies and one too many unpleasant foster homes, Bud runs off to find his dad.  He only has a few clues as to his possible identity, but this spunky young boy is determined.  It is lots of fun.  Bud recites "rules" to live by that are just hilarious.  He is quite the character.  It will keep you entertained for sure.  It is definitely a fun book to read aloud, whether in a classroom or at home.
I'll start off by saying this book is definitely not for everyone.  It is peculiar to say the least.  I read it simply because it won the Newbery (1975), but found that I rather enjoyed it.  The characters are quite interesting, although not always likable.  The title character spends much of his time observing the world from the top of a forty-foot pole.  The author does a fantastic job of describing the setting and the time.  You can feel yourself there.  While this book is strange, it is wildly descriptive in a way that just got under my skin.
310459Now I'll be honest.  I don't remember the details of this book.  I read it as a child and haven't taken the time to reread it yet as an adult.  I do remember that I thought it was wonderful.  It definitely opened my eyes to life in the deep south.  Despite what the laws said, centuries of hate and prejudice didn't end over night.  The Logan family is at the center of all the drama.  This book is beautifully written.  The author doesn't beat around the bush when depicting the harsh reality of the time.  It definitely isn't a feel-good book, but one that is worth reading for sure.  It won the Newbery in 1977 and is often a required reading title in elementary school.

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