Hello, friends! Our book today is Let The Children March, written by Monica Clark-Robinson and illustrated by Frank Morrison, a powerful account of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade.
In Jim Crow Alabama, a little girl’s family attends church to hear the words of Dr. Martin Luther King. He is trying to raise a peaceful army to march for civil rights, but the attendees are reluctant for fear of losing their jobs. But a remarkable group from the congregation step forward to volunteer: teens and children, who sagely point out that they have no jobs to lose. The adults, including Dr. King, are hesitant – even peaceful protests can and often do turn violent – but the children insist; it’s their own rights they’re marching for, after all. On a sunny Thursday, one thousand children begin their march and, over the course of three days, thousands more would join – despite being harassed, threatened, brutally assaulted by police, and arrested. But in the end, their courage was a landmark moment for the movement that caused the world to sit up and take notice, and began a wave of desegregation in Birmingham less than a week later.
I am always shocked that the Birmingham Children’s Crusade is not a more wildly-known event, likely because of the national shame the horrific treatment of American minors brought. Clark-Robinson handles this difficult story deftly, putting the reader into the perspective of a young, unnamed marcher and allowing them to connect to the pain, pride, and perseverance of the children and teens who marched. Each child is illustrated in exquisite detail, giving every character vivid personality and humanity. The art also doesn’t shy away from the violence, an bold choice – children are seen huddling against fire hoses and cowering from attacking police dogs, clothing tattered and bloody. It’s never exploitative, but brutally and vitally honest of what these kids risked to be heard. The length is fine for most reading levels, and JJ was spellbound by the heartbreaking art. This is a book that should be read by bookworms of every age, to pay tribute to these brave young people and remind us that courage knows no age. Baby Bookworm approved.