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Posts Tagged «African Americans»

As Brave As You

Monday, August 28th, 2017

26875552by Jason Reynolds, 410 pages, Grades 6 and up

Genie wants to know things, and when he doesn’t know something he can tend to worry about it. He absolutely loves Google because he can ask it all the things he is curious about and he usually gets an answer, but this summer he and his brother are staying with their grandparents where there is no internet. He went from Brooklyn to rural Virginia where everything is a mystery and he doesn’t even have Google! Genie is not having any trouble keeping busy, though. He has personal mysteries to investigate – he keeps track of questions in his notebook , a new landscape to navigate, and, of course, chores, like scooping poop and taking care of birds – things you don’t have to do growing up in the city.

If you enjoy books about summertime or visiting grandparents you might also like: A Long Way From Chicago, by Richard Peck, or Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos, or Watsons Go To Birmingham, by Christopher Paul Curtis.

Jefferson’s Sons

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Jeffersons-Sons-Coverby Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, 360 pages, Grades 6-9

History shows that Thomas Jefferson had a second family with one of the women enslaved on his plantation.  Sally Hemings was the mother of four of Thomas Jefferson’s children:  Beverly, Harriet, Madison and Eston.  
Bradley’s work of historical fiction uses the president’s sons, Beverly, Madison and Eston, as narrators.  Each eleven year old boy tells his part of the story, so the novel, in three parts, is an adolescent’s point of view.
There are many things that happen on the plantation that are scary and frustrating for the enslaved people who live there; almost nothing is in their control. It is clear that Jefferson’s children are given special privileges for enslaved people: music lessons, work in the house instead of in the field, etc, but, in the end, they are still trapped and controlled by their white master.  The children are never allowed to refer to Jefferson as daddy or papa, but he has promised each of them freedom when they come of age.  Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings hope that those children who are light complected can pass into white society and improve their situations.  This would mean never seeing their mother again; whites and blacks did not freely associate in those days. And what about the children who cannot pass for white?  Will Jefferson’s sons find freedom and find better lives off the plantation?
If you enjoy historical fiction books about people struggling for justice you might also enjoy Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan, or Homeless Bird, by Gloria Whelan.

Elijah of Buxton

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

elijahofbuxtonby Christopher Paul Curtis,  341 pages,   Grades 6-8

Elijah wishes he was not quite so fragile.  He can take off running when he sees a snake, or might feel like crying when someone tells the sad story of escaping from slavery in America.  His parents worry that his fragile nature might make his life difficult, but it is that very nature that turns him into a hero.

Buxton was a real town established in 1849 by an American abolitionist who hoped to give people escaping American slavery a place to live as free human beings. The story of Elijah is fictional, but things that happen are realistic for the time and place.

Even though his family thinks he is a delicate soul, Elijah finds courage deep inside himself and takes a lot of risks to do the right thing.  It is a dangerous time to be African American; Elijah’s adventure is truly heroic.

Click here to see if it’s available for check out.

Connections:  Christopher Paul Curtis is gifted at creating exciting stories that happen to be set in realistic times in history.  If you like Elijah of Buxton, you might also like Bud Not Buddy, or The Watson’s Go to Birmingham, both by Curtis as well.

One Crazy Summer

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

one crazy summerby Rita Williams-Garcia  p. 218  Grades:  5-8

CYRM NOMINEE 2013

It’s the summer of 1968, and eleven-year-old Delphine flies from New York to Oakland with her two younger sisters to spend the summer, uninvited, with the mother who walked out on them when Delphine was seven and Fern was just a few days old.  Her father feels the girls need to get to know their mother, but that does not make Cecile any more welcoming.  In fact, she won’t even let the girls into her kitchen.  Dinners are take-out food on the living room floor and breakfast is at the Black Panther summer camp.   The girls are on their own, but each comes into her  own that summer.   Told from Delphine’s perspective, this is a lively, often humorous, story of resilience with characters you will come to know and love.

Connections:  A novel about the Black Panther Party for older readers  is The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon.  Harlem Summer by Walter Dean Myers is set during the Harlem Renaissance, another significant period in African American history, and tells the story of another crazy summer.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

Friday, January 29th, 2010

claudette-colvin-twice-toward-justice-phillip-hoose-book-cover-artby Phillip Hoose   p. 104  Grades 6-8

I bet you know who Rosa Parks is and what she’s famous for, but have you ever  heard of Claudette Colvin?  She was a fifteen year old girl who refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus nine months before Rosa Parks became famous for the same thing.

On March 2, 1955, fifteen year-old Claudette Colvin courageously refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white woman.  Two white police officers came onto the bus and ordered her to give up her seat.  When she refused, stating that it was her Constitutional right to sit there, they dragged  her off the bus, shoved her into a police car and handcuffed her.  On the way to the police station, they called her names and made disparaging comments about her as Claudette sat terrified in the backseat next to one of the officers.  She was charged with violating the segregation  law, disturbing the peace, and assaulting the policemen who had pulled her off the bus.

Why is it that Rosa Parks became the symbol of the Montgomery bus boycott and  is considered one of the people who started the Civil Rights Movement, but most of us have never heard of Claudette Colvin?  At first she was a heroine to the Black community for standing up to the unfair practice of segregated seating, but then she became viewed as a troublemaker, and even her classmates shunned her.   Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement felt it was too risky to have a teenager represent them.   Hurt and isolated, Claudette still summoned the courage to testify at the trial that ended bus segregation in Montgomery.

Connections:  Other good nonfiction books about teenagers active in the Civil Rights Movement include Marching for Freedom : Walk Together, Children, and Don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge, Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals, and Freedom’s Children : Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories by Ellen Levine.

The Rock and the River

Monday, January 25th, 2010

rockriverby Kekla Magoon   p. 283   Grades:  7-10

Fourteen-year-old Sam is caught between a rock and a hard place.  It’s Chicago 1968.  His father, a close friend of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s,  is a lawyer and Civil Rights leader who has been organizing nonviolent protests and demonstrations most of Sam’s life.  His seventeen-year-old brother Stick is impatient with the nonviolent approach, and after King’s assassination, joins the militant Black Panther Party.  Sam’s life is thrown into further turmoil when he witnesses the brutal police beating and arrest of an innocent Black teenager and finds a gun hidden in the bedroom he shares with his brother.  This wrenching story propels the reader along with Sam toward his ultimate decision:  will he be the rock or the river? Through Sam’s personal story, the reader comes to understand how 1968 was the year that the Civil Rights Movement changed course.

Connections:  Freedom Songs by Yvette Moore is another novel about the Civil Rights Movement.  Mississippi Trial, 1955 by Chris Crowe tells the infamous story of Emmett Till, a fourteen year-old African American boy from Chicago who was kidnapped and murdered in Mississippi.  Our library owns many nonfiction books about the Civil Rights Movement.  One of special interest is Freedom’s Children : Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories by Ellen Levine.

Flygirl

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

flygirlby Sherri L. Smith  p. 271  Grades 6-8

It’s World War II, and the Japanese and Germans aren’t the only enemies.  On the homefront, Ida Mae Jones is fighting racism and sexism.  All she wants to do is become a pilot and to help in the war effort.  The U.S. government has formed the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots), but they won’t accept African Americans (“colored”) into what was still the segregated armed services.  Risking her life and disappointing her family, Ida Mae decides to pass for white by joining up and reporting for training in Texas, where enforcement of Jim Crow laws was especially harsh.  To avoid the constant threat of danger, Ida Mae must skillfully maneuver not only her airplane but also her relationships so that her true identity is not discovered.

Connections:  To learn more about women pilots in World War II, read Yankee Doodle Gals:   Women Pilots of World War II by Amy Nathan.

Adam Canfield Watch Your Back

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

adam canfieldby Michael Winerip.  p. 329  Grades 6-8

Adam Canfield is literally shoveling in the money on a Snow Day by clearing his neighbors’ walks–when older bullies pull up in a van and mug him.  Not only is he a victim of a crime, but he also becomes the embarrassing focus of a media campaign by The Slash to stop bullying.  This sequel to Adam Canfield of the Slash is as good as its predecessor.  While Jennifer and the other Slash staff take on bullies, saving a tree, and discrimination, Adam launches an undercover operation to expose the fact that parents are doing their kids’ science fair projects.

Connections:  If you enjoy the Adam Canfield books, try these other novels based on school newspapers:  The Landry News by Andrew Clements and Thou Shalt Not Dump the Skater Dude and Other Commandments I Have Broken by Rosemary Graham.  The Watergate Scandal in American History by David K. Fremon describes how Washington Post investigative journalists broke the Watergate case.

Laurie Halse Anderson

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

chainsCheck out this new historical fiction title from a favorite author:

Chains, p. 316 – Grades 6-10

Highlight:  Watch this great interview (from Reading Rockets) with Laurie Halse Anderson talking about her life and her books.

Peace, Locomotion

Monday, April 27th, 2009

peace locomotionby Jacqueline Woodson, p. 136 – Grades 4-7

In this companion to Locomotion, Lonnie Collins Motion (aka Locomotion) helps his sister Lili remember life before their separate foster care placements by sending her letters filled with memories of the past triggered by his day to day experiences.  Both Locomotion and Lili are happy with their foster care families, but miss their parents and being together.  The letters start to focus on the importance of peace and the realities of war as Locomotion becomes more aware of his foster brother who is in the army.

Connection:  This quick read might appeal to those who like Shooting the Moon by O’Rourke.  –CRW

Highlight:  Watch this great interview (from Reading Rockets) with Jacqueline Woodson talking about her life and her books.