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Recommended Reading

Use these resources on civil rights to start or supplement your school or classroom library.

Grades K - 3

Dupre, Rick. The Wishing Chair, Carolrhoda Books, 1993. (Illustrated tale of a young boy whose grandmother sits in a special chair to tell him stories of the civil rights movement.)

King, Martin Luther and Coretta Scott. I Have a Dream, Scholastic, 1997. (Martin Luther King's speech illustrated by 15 Coretta Scott King award-winning artists.)

Miller, William. The Bus Ride, Lee & Low Books, 1998. (An account of the Montegomery Bus Boycott.)

Parks, Rosa. I Am Rosa Parks, Dial Books, 1997. (Autobiography.)

Rappaport, Doreen. Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Hyperion Books for Children, 2001. (A narrative that tells the story of the civil rights leader, using and expanding upon his words.)

Ruffin, Frances E. Martin Luther King and the March on Washington, New York City: Grosset & Dunlap, 2001. (Picture book about the March on Washington and the segregation and history that preceded that event.)

Wiles, Deborah. Freedom Summer, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1993. (An account of the friendship of two boys--one white, the other black--during the summer after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.)

Grades 4 - 6

Bullard, Sara. Free at Last: A History of the Civil Rights Movement and Those Who Died in the Struggle, Oxford University Press Children’s Books, 1994. (Chronology of the civil rights movement.)

Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, Delacorte Press, 1995. (Fictional account of the summer of 1963, in Birmingham, from the perspective of a 9-year-old boy.)

Haskins, James. Bayard Rustin—Behind the Scenes of the Civil Rights Movement, Hyperion Books for Children, 1997. (A biography of Rustin's contribution to the March on Washington.)

Haskins, James. The Day Martin Luther King, Jr., Was Shot: A Photo History of the Civil Rights Movement, Scholastic Press, 1991. (Recounts in photos the history of the civil rights movement.)

Hill, Christine M. John Lewis: From Freedom Rider to Congressman (African-American Biographies), Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2002. (Biography of the civil rights leader.)

Littlesugar, Amy. Freedom School, Yes!, Philomel Books, 2001. (Fictional account of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom School Summer Project, in which 600 white volunteers came to teach children in the deep South.)

Parks, Rosa and Jim Haskins (Contributor). Rosa Parks: My Story, Dial Books for Young Readers, 1992. (Rosa Parks' autobiography.)

Reed, Gregory J. Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue With Today's Youth by Rosa Parks, Lee & Low Books, 1996. (Collection of letters to Rosa Parks from schoolage children, with her replies.)

Grades 7 - 9

Belton, Sandra. McKendree, Greenwillow Books, 2000. (Story of a 14-year-old girl trying to understand her mixed-race background in 1948.)

Davis, Ossie. Just Like Martin, Simon, 1992. (Novel about a 14-year-old boy who wants to participate in the March on Washington and his father who won't allow him to attend.)

Herschler, Mildred Barger. The Darkest Corner, Front Street, 2000. (In the deep South of the 1960s, a 9-year-old white girl becomes alienated from her father as she gets involved in the civil rights movement.)

Levine, Ellen. Freedom's Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories, Turtleback Books, 2001. (Firsthand accounts from African-Americans who were children during the 1950s and 1960s.)

Meltzer, Milton. There Comes a Time: The Struggle for Civil Rights, Random House Books for Young Readers, 2002. (An extensive overview of the civil rights movement from one of the original lunch counter sit-in protesters.)

Rochelle, Belinda. Witnesses to Freedom: Young People Who Fought for Civil Rights, Lodestar Books, 1993. (Describes the roles of young African-Americans in the civil rights movement, chronicling the children who participated in nine events such as the integration of Little Rock High and the Montgomery Bus boycott.)

Turck, Mary. Civil Rights Movement for Kids: A History with 21 Activities. Chicago Review Press, 2000. (An overview of segregation and civil rights with activities kids can do to further their understanding.)

High School

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man, Vintage, 1995. (Story of a man growing up in the South, where he is expelled from school, moves north, and becomes a leader and activist.)

Grooms, Anthony. Bombingham: A Novel. New York: The Free Press, 2001. (A young soldier in Vietnam writes a letter home recalling his years growing up in Birmingham during the civil rights movement.)

Lewis, John and Michael D'Orso. Walking with the Wind, Harvest Books, 1999. (Civil rights activist and U.S. Rep. John Lewis's autobiography.)

McWhorter, Diane. Carry Me Home—Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution, Simon & Schuster 2001. (Personal narrative of the civil rights movement in Birmingham, Ala., in 1963.)

Moore, Yvette. Freedom Songs, Puffin, 1991. (Set in the early 1960s, a young black girl from Brooklyn visits her grandmother in North Carolina where she experiences Jim Crowism firsthand.)

Winters, Paul. ed. The Civil Rights Movement, Greenhaven Press, 2000. (Includes 23 essays written during the movement to illustrate the mindset and the climate of the times.)


Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Site; California Department of Education Recommended Reading List; De Grummond's Children's Literature Collection: Civil Rights Movement Bibliography; The Horn Book Guide; PBS's History of Jim Crow Site: List of Fictional Books Relating to Jim Crow; and Virginia Center for Children's Books: African American Civil Rights Movement.