For a powerful and poetic glimpse into the life of a real-life American civil rights hero, look no further than Voice of Freedom, a 2016 Caldecott Honor book written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated in beautiful collages by Ekua Holmes. Each haunting poem includes Fannie Lou Hamer's own words, and each tells of a formative experience in her eventful life. She was at the forefront of many important events in civil rights history, and sadly, like many black citizens of the U.S. both past and present, experienced brutality at the hands of cruel white people so severe that she was left with permanent injuries. Her ability to rise above incredible injustices and to be a leader for her people was second to none. Highly recommended for grades 4 and up.
"Truly listening to someone reminds them that their lives matter; and reminds us all of what matters most."
The statement above is included in a short video produced by StoryCorps and Google encouraging people to take part in StoryCorps' "Great Thanksgiving Listen." The StoryCorps organization aims "to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives." This Thanksgiving, Storycorps encourages high school students, especially, to interview grandparents, or another older friend or relative, and use the StoryCorps app to record and share the interview. But you don't have to be in high school to take part. And taking time to talk with and truly listen to the stories our friends and relatives have to tell is a gift we can give each other at any time.
The picturebook Ask Me by Bernard Waber, echoes the message promoted by the StoryCorps initiative. Illustrated by Suzy Lee in rich red, yellow and orange colors, it shows a father and daughter enjoying the outdoors together on a lovely Autumn day. "Ask me what I like," the girl says to her father. And he does. And after she answers, he asks: "What else do you like?"encouraging continued conversation as they examine bugs and flowers, kick through fallen leaves and enjoy made up words like sploshing and splooshing.
Throughout the peaceful story, the father gives his daughter his full and undivided attention. He's not trying to shop for groceries, clean his home, or check his phone for messages. He's listening and responding and encouraging his daughter's curiosity and letting her know that her words and stories matter to him; that what she thinks and says is important; that she is important to him.
Reading to children also provides an opportunity to pause our busy lives and spend time together. Picturebooks, notable for their informative and appealing illustrations, often include a greater variety of words than we normally use as part of our everyday conversation. Reading and listening to picturebooks and other stories can help children increase their word knowledge - and world knowledge - as the subjects represented in picturebook format range from friends and family to rabbits and robotics.
And after you've finished the story, you can ask your listener: What do you think? What did you like best? What would you like to read about next?
"I would like for young people to know that each day of your life is a journey into history and that you are making that history. And you have the ability to change something each day of your life. Believe it or not, people, it can't happen without you."
Lynda Blackmon Lowery was the youngest person to walk with Martin Luther King, Jr., Congressman John Lewis and other civil rights activists who marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 to demand that African Americans have the freedom to vote. She was 14 when the march began. She turned 15 on March 22, 1965, the second day of the four-day march, and was admittedly terrified of what harm might come to her and others as they proceeded toward the capital city governed by devout segregationist George Wallace. But she was also determined."Determination is a way of overcoming terror. So by the end of second day, I felt fine. I was ready."
Lowery's memoir is a powerful account of and tribute to the many young people who participated in the Civil Rights movement. Her personal experiences are followed with succinct explanation of the injustices many African Americans encountered when they attempted to vote in the 1960s and earlier, and the need for their voting rights to be legally delineated.
Her story does describe the violence she endured during some of the public demonstrations. But it is framed by the strength and courage she gained by joining her classmates and adults leading peaceful protests designed to overcome hate and racism. And it concludes in victory, as we celebrate this year the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, passed by Congress on August 6, 1965.
Says Lowery: "We were determined to do something and we did it. If you are determined, you can overcome your fears, and then you can change the world."
For additional stories and nonfiction books about the participation of young people in the Civil Rights Movement, see our Civil Rights Movement booklist. World Book Online, an informational resource available to Library cardholders for free through the Library website, includes a Timeline of the Civil Rights Movement. You can also find a display in the Children's area at the Main Library of images from the Civil Rights Movement to help prompt discussion about this time period and help inform children who may be attending the Power of Words presentation at the IU Auditorium September 21, where Congressman John Lewis will be speaking about his book March and the pivotal role he played in the Civil Rights Movement.
Summer is a great time to get outside and get your hands dirty. We did just that at our Generations Gardening Together program in May and again, earlier this month, at Little Makers. Ginny and friends got green with a fun spring/summer activity, creating seed bombs!
Seed Bombs are small balls made from clay, seed, and dirt that will explode with beautiful flowers when planted or thrown into dirt areas. They’re great for exploring nature and present an opportunity for learning. Even more important, they’re fun and can incorporate some of Every Child Ready to Read’s five daily practices, such as” playing” and “talking.” Why stop there? Add in a song or a reading and writing activity to get the full five practices! Try the fingerplay "My Garden" performed by our own librarian, Mary and one of the recommendations on our Gardening Books for Kids list.
What You’ll Need :
Flower seeds (we used wildflower seeds)
What To Do :
Knead the clay to soften it.
Once the clay is moldable, flatten and shape the clay into a disc shape.
On top of the clay disc, add ½ teaspoon of potting soil and ¼ teaspoon of flower seeds.
Fold the clay inward, keeping the soil and seeds from spilling out. Mold the clay into a ball around the soil and seeds.
In a bowl, mix some soil and seeds together.
Roll your seed bomb through the soil and seeds. Try to get an even covering of soil and seeds on the clay.
Gently pat the soil and seeds into the clay to incorporate them into the clay ball.
Toss the seed bomb wherever you’d like plants to grow!
A library is a place for collecting information and cataloging factual knowledge, but it is ooooh so much more. Your public library also is a place of wonder and discovery, a place to play and create; a place to exercise your reading or computing skills; use your imagination and develop new talents. This is the library we want children to experience this summer when we invite them to play our Summer Reading Game and “Find Your Superpower at the Library!”
What are you interested in? What do you want to learn more about? What do you enjoy reading? We encourage children to choose reading as a fun, recreational activity because literacy studies indicate that children who read more, read better - as researcher Stephen Krashen summarizes his findings. And we emphasize this aspect of choice - we let children know they get to choose what they’d like to read when they participate in our reading game - because literacy studies indicate that self-selected voluntary reading leads to the greatest gains in reading achievement and other aspects of literacy. (Krashen, Power of Reading, 2004.)
The Library’s Summer Reading Game also presents children with opportunities to develop other superpowers. In addition to reading, they can solve math puzzles, design and construct with different building materials; draw, and create unique videos using equipment at the Library. Check our events calendar to see the variety of activities you can do at the Library this summer, and let us help you and your children discover your superpowers. Come in costume, if you like – we’ll be wearing our superhero capes!
This week in our preschool arts program, Little Makers, we did two projects to help us celebrate and appreciate nature for Earth Day! First, we created nature journals by punching holes into paper and practiced our fine motor skills to string yarn through the holes. Then, we used markers to decorate and name our nature journals.
The second project we worked on was a set of binoculars. We used recycled toilet paper rolls and secured our binoculars with glue. After the glue dried, we decorated each pair with words and drawings. Although the binoculars have no magnifying effect, with a little imagination it worked just fine! After completing the projects, our little makers were excited to give them a go!
These projects not only helped us appreciate nature, but also centered on the early literacy practice of writing. By writing descriptions or drawing pictures of what they see in nature, a child is working on building the skills they need for writing and reading.
Writing is like learning a code. Each letter has a meaning and those individual meanings strung together create a word. Did you know that when a child scribbles, they’re practicing writing? A shape may represent a letter or a mark on a piece of paper can represent a word. It may not look like words to us, but to the child it has meaning. It’s building their print awareness, which means knowing that print has meaning, and helping them build the skills they’ll need when they’re ready to read.
Now that we have a trusty pair of binoculars and a brand new nature journal, why not play and build up some of our early literacy skills from Every Child Ready to Read’s five daily practices: reading, writing, singing, talking or playing? Ask your child to describe a bug they see! Is it fluffy or solid? What color is it? How many legs does it have? Make up a silly song about the bug! Another fun way to explore an early literacy skill is to draw a picture and label it. Have a child draw a picture of an animal and label the head, eyes, tail, arms, or paws. Make it a game, early literacy should be fun!