Love is Loud: How Diane Nash Led the Civil Rights Movement (Sandra Neil Wallace)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Love is Loud: How Diane Nash Led the Civil Rights Movement, written by Sandra Neil Wallace and illustrated by Bryan Collier, a lyrical, biographical picture book about using love to fight for equality.

Born in Chicago in 1938, Diane Nash grew up in comparatively less-segregated world, by family members who instilled her a sense of worth, righteousness, and equality. Moving to Tennessee to attend college, Diane was humiliated and enraged to see the way that Jim Crow segregation dehumanized black Americans, and made the decision that it was her duty to fight for justice – not with violence, but with love. Diane spearheaded several famous peaceful protests and demonstrations, including the sit-ins at Nashville lunch counters. Diane went on to speak, organize, and lead many more protests, at a time when women’s contributions to the civil rights movement were largely ignored. And through it all, she approached every challenge with peace, understanding, and love, to leave a better and more equal world for future generations.

Fascinating. As Wallace subtly points out in her text, the contributions of the female activists of the civil rights movement are so often forgotten, so reading this powerful recounting of Diane Nash’s work, as well as how deeply it was tied to her character and personal history, was an edifying experience. Wallace’s text, while not rhyming, still utilizes rhythm and turns of phrase that make it delightful to read aloud, though that does leave some details of Nash’s work vague, such as when she suddenly turns up in Vietnam with little explanation (these details are fleshed out in the book’s backmatter, however). Collier’s watercolor-and-collage illustrations are bright, bold, and colorful, and perfectly capture Nash’s indefatigable spirit. The length is best for older elementary readers, but JJ and I enjoyed it. Overall, a great book about a very cool lady, and we recommend it – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth (Michelle Duster)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth, written by Michelle Duster and illustrated by Laura Freeman, a powerful profile of an incredible activist and writer.

Born into slavery in 1862, Ida began her professional career at only sixteen, when she became a school teacher to support her five younger siblings. Shortly after, she began writing, often on social and political topics that (by the standards of the time) no woman of color had any business writing about. At 22, she sued a major railroad corporation for discrimination, and won (though the ruling was later overturned in appeals). Ida wrote about her experiences with the railroad, with segregated schools, and with the racism and sexism she experienced daily. When three of her friends were lynched by white rival business owners, Ida encouraged boycotts in her newsletters, something that put her life in danger. Yet Ida never stopped – she continued to fight for minority and women’s rights until her death in 1931, leaving a legacy that continues to inspire activists and community organizers to this day.

Stirring. Wells was certainly ahead of her time as a writer and activist, and this look at her life does a wonderful job of exploring both her immense body of work and the motivations and drive behind it. Duster, who offers a truly unique perspective as Wells’s great-granddaughter, tells her ancestor’s story with a great balance of informative facts and emotional pull; the sequence that covers the lynching murders of Wells’s friends in Memphis and the subsequent fallout is particularly affecting. Freeman’s illustrations are compelling, both visually and emotionally, and truly feel like snapshots of Well’s life and times. The length and subject matter are best for older elementary readers, but JJ was certainly captivated by the story and artwork. Overall, this is an impressive and stirring tale of a figure more than deserving of recognition, and we highly recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Let The Children March (Monica Clark-Robinson)

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.

Pocket Bio: Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (Al Berenger)


Hello, friends! Our books today are from the Pocket Bio series by Al Berenger, specifically three notable figures in civil rights: Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Each book gives the reader a brief history of the subject’s early life, their influences, their actions, and their legacies. Mandela’s focuses on his imprisonment and triumphant election as president of South Africa after his release – the first election he was able to vote in – and touches briefly on his Nobel win and the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Parks’s includes her famous bus ride, and King’s looks at his involvement in the Montgomery bus boycott, the Selma march, and his “I Have A Dream” speech.

As early-learner primers for these historical figures, these aren’t terrible. King’s is the most informative, making note of his early influences (Jim Crow south, his father’s religious work, his study of Ghandi, etc.) and even his courtship with Coretta Scott. His murder is mentioned (though not depicted), and the book ends on a note of surprising honesty, noting that racism is still a problem that needs to be fought, but King’s work made great strides and encourages us to make more. Mandela’s book is serviceable, delving into the racist policies of Apartheid and mentioning the violent, often deadly protests that took place, but glossing over the reformation years pretty heavily. Most disappointing is Parks’s book, which relies almost solely on her arrest; the bus boycott that follows is made to seem entirely the idea of MLK (Parks volunteered to be the face of the boycott at great personal risk and sacrifice), and her work as a secretary and investigator with the NCAAP gets zero mention. Likewise, the bobble-headed illustrations are just okay – engaging for younger readers but occasionally at odds with the tone of the subject matter (a scene depicting a meeting of Mandela’s Spear of the Nation militant group is laughable). The length is fine, the backmatter – maps, timelines, etc – is a nice addition, and JJ enjoyed them for the most part. Somewhat uneven, and definitely only a jumping-off point, but worth a browse. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: Copies of these books were provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

The Case For Loving: The Fight For Interracial Marriage (Selina Alko)

Hello, friends! Today’s review is The Case For Loving: The Fight For Interracial Marriage, written by Selina Alko and illustrated by Alko and Sean Qualls, which tells the true story of the family behind the landmark case of Loving v. Virginia. 

Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving grew up in a small town in Virginia. Both were quiet, humble, and kind, and eventually they fell very much in love. It never mattered to either of them that Richard was white and Mildred was black/Native American. Unfortunately, it mattered to the state of Virginia; at the time, it was illegal there and in 17 other states for people of different races to get married. Richard and Mildred wanted to be together though, so they married out-of-state, but were still arrested when they returned home to Virginia. So the Lovings decided to fight for their right to be together, and hired lawyers to argue their case in court. And in the midst of working and raising three children, the two quiet, humble people won their right to be together, and changed the laws of the United States in the process.

I adore the story of the Lovings, so I was delighted to see a children’s book that recognizes this courageous family. And this absolutely lived up to expectations: the Lovings’ story is simplified well for young readers, yet treated with honesty and respect. It takes the time to explain the anti-miscegenation laws and systemic racism that infringed on the couple’s right to be a family, and gives easily-understood context for the prejudice they suffered. The illustrations are lovely and fit the romantic and inspiring themes of the story well. The length is great, and JJ and I both loved it. This is a must-read for little ones, to show them the importance of standing up for what’s right, and that no matter what it looks like on the outside, love is love. Baby Bookworm approved!