Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Through My Eyes, by Ruby Bridges

Through My Eyes
by Ruby Bridges
64 pages
New York: Scholastic
ISBN 9780590189231

The words of Ruby Bridges and other important figures in her young life, compiled from interviews and articles, tell the story of integration from the front lines.

In addition to being a valuable historical perspective of the 1950s/60s civil rights struggles, this photoillustrated collection of interviews underscores the differences between what adults know and understand about a situation and what children do. For example, Ruby says that as the oldest child in her family, she didn't know on her first day of school that her experience was so unusual. She enjoyed spending time with her teacher, Mrs. Henry, and accepted that she would be the only student in her first-grade class. Although aware of the tension around her and of course the violent threats screamed by adults as she entered and exited the school building, she didn't fully realize that the conflict was because of race until nearly the end of the school year. No one spoke to her frankly about integration or racism, or explained what was happening in the world to a six-year-old. "Young children never know about racism at the start," the book begins. "It's we adults who teach it." That's true from all sides of the race division.

This picturebook is suitable for 4th, 5th, or 6th grade curricula, where independent readers can delve into the text and understand the multiple narrative perspectives provided by different voices (including Mrs. Henry, Ruby's parents, and newspaper articles of the time). The black and white photography, which persists even when documenting more recent times where color film would be the norm, prolongs the themes of racial contrast and makes the book feel a little like a scrapbook from an older family member. Ruby Bridges' story is indeed a memoir to be passed down to today's students, whether in Through My Eyes or a book for younger readers like Robert Coles' The Story of Ruby Bridges.

1999 Parents’ Choice Award
2000 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award
2000 Carter G. Woodson Book Award

no Author Info
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Media: black and white photography

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