When this book Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine came out a couple of years ago, I knew it was going to be one of those books that I will go back year after year. There are so many reasons why I love this book, it is a true story from the Underground Railroad, it is written in a beautiful language that reaches the youngest of readers. The illustrations are simply put: unforgettable. Of course, you can only expect amazing art work coming from Kadir Nelson.
I have used this book for so many reasons and so many different audiences. Last week, my third grade ELL class were learning all about reader's feelings and attitudes as one of the Ohio standards to cover. Once again this unforgettable story made an impact on my students' day. As they listened to this read aloud, I can see in their facial expressions their concerns, confusion, sadness and even relief at the end of the story. It was the perfect read aloud to teach my students about the power of word choice and the feelings it arises in the audience/readers.
I told my students about the Freedom Center in Cincinnati and about the section in the museum that talks about Henry "Box" Brown.
A new book that caught my attention this week and one that I will definitely love to share with my students, especially during Black History Month is Ruth and The Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey. This is the story about Ruth and his family who after getting a new 1952 Buick, they decide to go on a family road trip. Ruth is excited and more than ready for an adventure on the way to grandmas' house. But little did she know that black travelers weren't treated very well in many towns. Reality was that many hotels and gas stations refused service to black people. Ruth had no idea that this was going on outside of her dear Chicago. She saw the pain and frustration in her family's eyes when they couldn't even find a place to stay overnight and rest. At an Esso Shop, Ruth and her family discovered The Green Book which listed all of the places that would welcome black travelers. Even though Ruth's story is fiction, The Green Book is a true part of history which helped millions of African Americans travel with dignity. The Green Book was written by an African American living in New York City named Victor Green. He made a list of all the hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and general businesses that would serve African Americans in his city. This book received such a wonderful respond from the people, that he decided to include other towns in the editions that followed. Esso stations were the only gas stations that sold to African Americans, therefore, it was decided that The Green Book will be sold at those stations for only a quarter. I love the fact that this book included so many important facts at the end of this picture book. The author even included a link to view a copy of The Green Book online by visiting www.ruthandthegreenbook.com. A fantastic addition to any collection!