139. If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King by Ellen Levine

If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King by Ellen Levine. Illustrated by Anna Rich (Canada) - (US)
If You... series

Pages: 80
Ages: 8+
Finished: Jun. 10, 2011
First Published: 1990 (1994, new illustrations)
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: non-fiction, children, history, 1960s, Civil Rights Movement
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Black people were brought to America from Africa as slaves.

Acquired: Purchased a copy new via an online retailer.

Reason for Reading: Read aloud to ds as part of our history curriculum.

As with all "If You..." books, the book is presented in a series of questions and answers which progress naturally from a beginning point to an ending.  After the brief introduction which leads us up to the plight of the black people in the US in the fifties and sixties the book starts with the question "What was segregation?" This is a very thorough book which looks at the Civil Rights Movement from the earliest rumblings of the brave lone men and woman who took a stand by sitting on a bus in the white section or sitting in diners for white people all the way through to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination and modern day prejudice.  Though the book's title refers to MLK, this is not a biography of him and he is not mentioned until well into the book.  Of course once he is mentioned then he and the movement become inseparable, but the book is about the times first.

My son was very interested in this book, and with us being Canadians this was the first time he had heard about this topic in such depth.  Of course, we have come across the subject in our readings to date and I've discussed it with him but this book really brought the reality of the situation, mostly in the Southern US, to life for him.  He was plain outright flabbergasted at the "whites only" and "no coloreds" signs that were posted everywhere and everything that was actually involved with segregation.  It was a real eye opener for him that a world like this once existed and we tried to imagine what it would be like for us today if we were out in the world with so many rules against what we were allowed to do and where we could go and he found it near impossible.  He is glad that Canada is a free country and that we were a welcome destination for the slaves back in those days. (from previous studies)  This book definitely made an impact on him and I personally was well pleased with it, also.


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