Cover image for Child of the civil rights movement
Child of the civil rights movement
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Schwartz & Wade Books, c2010.
Physical Description:
1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ; 29 cm.
Reading Level:
AD 840 L Lexile
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
Paula Young Shelton shares her memories of the civil rights movement and her involvement in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 323.1196 SHE 1 1
Book J 323.1196 SHE 1 1
Book J 323.1196 SHE 1 1
Book J 323.1196 SHE 1 1
Book J 323.1196 SHE 1 1

On Order



In this Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book of the Year, Paula Young Shelton, daughter of Civil Rights activist Andrew Young, brings a child's unique perspective to an important chapter in America's history. Paula grew up in the deep south, in a world where whites had and blacks did not. With an activist father and a community of leaders surrounding her, including Uncle Martin (Martin Luther King), Paula watched and listened to the struggles, eventually joining with her family--and thousands of others--in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.

Poignant, moving, and hopeful, this is an intimate look at the birth of the Civil Rights Movement.

Author Notes

Paula Young Shelton is the daughter of civil rights leader and former U.N. ambassador Andrew Young. She is a teacher in Washington, D.C., and a member of the National Black Child Development Institute. Her husband, Hilary O. Shelton, is the director of the NAACP Washington Bureau.

Raul Colón is the acclaimed illustrator of numerous children's books.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-When the author was a child, her father, Andrew Young, was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. Her first picture book beautifully captures her childhood during those events that radically changed America. One episode recalls Shelton's unique contribution to the integration of restaurants. When white owners refused to seat her family, Shelton sat down and cried loudly, an action she calls "my very first protest, my own little sit-in." With this incident, she helps modern children understand the hurtful effects of segregation. Shelton also recalls how the movement united its leaders. The Youngs, the Kings, and other activists became like family because they "were brought together by a common goal." This positive tone prevails throughout the book, which ends with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Colon's luminous watercolors effectively underscore the text's optimistic viewpoint, imbuing scenes of struggle with light that represents the activists' hope for positive results. The book therefore balances honesty about the challenges of the movement with the hope that inspired activists to continue their efforts. An author's note explains how Shelton does not always remember conversations verbatim, but draws on her family's shared memories. The back matter includes information about the leaders who are mentioned. History comes alive in this vivid account.-Mary Landrum, Lexington Public Library, KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In her debut picture book, Shelton, a daughter of Andrew Young (activist, politician, and former U.N. ambassador), taps into her memories and those of her father, two older sisters, and others to offer a child's perspective of "the family of the civil rights movement." She recalls her parents, native Southerners, moving their family from New York to Georgia to help combat erupting racial violence ("At first, I thought Jim Crow was a big black crow/ that squawked whenever a black person/ tried to get a good seat"). Shelton smoothly threads together personal anecdotes: being turned away from a restaurant; listening from under the table as her parents, Martin Luther King Jr., and other activists gather ("With everyone trying to talk at once,/ I thought they sounded just like/ instruments tuning up before a concert"); and participating as a four-year-old in the Selma-Montgomery march. Colon's (As Good as Anybody) soft-focus art features his customarily rich textural backdrop of speckles, scratches, and waves. Both contributors evoke the drama and emotion of the times (while avoiding the violence) and a triumphal sense of community and family. Ages 4-8. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

Civil rights can be a difficult topic, even for adults, so finding simple language to explain the complexity of injustice and oppression to children is challenging. Shelton, daughter of Andrew Young, accepts the challenge and rises to meet it, approaching the topic from the point of view of the child she was in the '60s: a four-year-old girl living in the midst of the leaders who helped change the nation. While the linked free-verse poems appropriately omit potentially confusing information, they introduce readers to her parents' friendsactivists such as Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Cotton and Ralph Abernathy. The author's language can pack a punch, as when she describes her parents' moving the family from New York "back to Georgia, / back to Jim Crow, / where whites could / but blacks could not." Coln's illustrations are exceptional in their use of color and texture to convey emotions and situations. Thumbnail biographies of the leaders introduced demonstrate that their activism did not end after the Voting Rights Act, which concludes this account. Essential. (bibliography) (Picture book/memoir. 4-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The daughter of civil rights leader Andrew Young remembers her family's active role in the civil rights movement, beginning when she was four years old. In rhythmic free verse she tells how she and her family move from New York to Atlanta, Georgia, to join the struggle ( back to Jim Crow, / where whites could / but blacks could not ), and how Dr. King and other leaders become a warm personal presence in her home, close because we all struggled together. When her family is refused entry to a restaurant, she sits down and cries loudly, my very first protest, my own little sit-in. Colón's dramatic, full-page pencil-and-wash illustrations in his signature style include portraits of famous figures as well as Paula and her sisters, hiding under tables and listening to adults in heated debate. Finally, in the story's climax, Paula and her family are part of the triumphant march from Selma to Montgomery. Many adults will want to talk about their memories of the time, and kids will appreciate the child's intimate viewpoint of world-changing history. Appended biographical notes offer more information about the leaders introduced in the text as well as a brief bibliography.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist