At a time when we’re experiencing the removal of books from classrooms and libraries because of a resistance to “wokeness” and diversity, we need to understand that these are supremacist strategies from the past.
One book that will remind us about the ways that discrimination once operated is Wade Hudson’s “Defiant: Growing Up in the Jim Crow South.” It’s written for fifth- and sixth-graders, telling about his childhood in Mansfield, Louisiana, during segregation and showing young people the definition of inner courage.
This book Is perfect for summer reading with your kids. It will give them a taste of the past and it will allow you to read through it quickly so that your family can have important conversations about race and power.
The book begins with Hudson’s arrest, so the threat of jail that still casts itself over our children is relevant. In Hudson’s case, his civil rights work got him in trouble. So here too is an occasion for contemplation with your children: When is it important to go to jail? Is it still a relevant tactic for individuals and groups? What can they do to move the need on the scale of justice?
Importantly, Hudson is an advocate for children, so the book is meant to make a difference in readers’ lives. As co-founder of Just Us Books with his wife, Cheryl, he has been committed for more than 34 years to the creation of books for Black kids. This company’s books are uplifting, and they address Black children’s joys as well as their challenges.
Check out the Just Us Books list beginning with their early Black ABC book series called “Afrobets” to their more recent YA nonfiction titles “Brave. Black. First” and “We Rise. We Resist. We Raise Our Voices.”
For your young Louisiana History buff, consider “A Sitting in Saint James” by Rita Williams-Garcia. The Newbery Honor Award-winning author of “One Crazy Summer” (about three girls who go to Oakland and meet the Black Panthers and the mother who abandoned them) addresses Louisiana’s past in her new Young Adult novel.
Kirkus Reviews praised “A Sitting in Saint James” as “A marathon masterpiece that shares a holistic portrait of U.S. history that must not be dismissed or forgotten.”
This book is for young people aged 15 and older. It’s an excellent way to understand history from a master storyteller.
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