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Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

seeds of freedom

Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama
Author: Hester Bass
Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
Published January 27th, 2015 by Candlewick Press

Goodreads Summary: Explore a little-known story of the Civil Rights movement, in which black and white citizens in one Alabama city worked together nonviolently to end segregation.

Mention the Civil Rights era in Alabama, and most people recall images of terrible violence. But something different was happening in Huntsville. For the citizens of that city, creativity, courage, and cooperation were the keys to working together to integrate their city and schools in peace. In an engaging celebration of this lesser-known chapter in American and African-American history, author Hester Bass and illustrator E. B. Lewis show children how racial discrimination, bullying, and unfairness can be faced successfully with perseverance and ingenuity.

Kellee’s Review:  I loved learning about Huntsville! It is amazing that in the middle of the violence and ignorance that ran rampant during the Civil Rights Movement, there was a Southern town that was peaceful and worked together to integrate. The story is so inspiring and gives me faith in humanity! I love how Bass ties together history and the movement throughout the nation to what was going on in Huntsville. It really shows the comparison between the rest of the nation and Huntsville. The illustrations are also extremely beautiful. I fell in love with his art in Each Kindness, and I am so happy to experience it again. 

Ricki’s Review: The metaphor of the seeds of freedom dances across the pages of this book. E. B. Lewis’ illustrations are masterful. I spent a long time on each spread, soaking in the way the artwork connected with the words. This is a book about civil rights, and it is also a book about the goodness of people and the quiet persistence of the people of Huntsville, Alabama as they saw injustice, and they pressed on to fight against it. Students will learn a bit about history, but they will learn a lot about themselves. I plan to use this book in my methods classes to show how history can come alive in picture books. This book shines brightly. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book is a wonderful introduction to the civil rights movement. It gives a peaceful account and also shares information about the dark times. We think it would be fascinating to take the events mentioned in Seeds of Freedom and put them on a timeline, so students can visually see when each event was happening. It was also be interesting to compare and contrast Birmingham and Huntsville during this time period. Additionally, Seeds would be a perfect companion to Lions of Little Rock. Teachers might consider using this book in a text set to give students a rich understanding of the civil rights movement, or they might create a text set around themes such as persistence or protest in history. 

Discussion Questions: How was Huntsville’s civil rights movement different than other cities around the nation?; How did the author use a seed as a metaphor for the civil rights movement?; What is reverse integration?; Who are some of the main people who helped integration within the United States?

We Flagged: 

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Read This If You Loved: Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine, Separate is Never Equal by Duncan TonatiuhSit In by Andrea Davis Pinkney; The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson, Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles

Recommended For: 

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10 Responses to Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama by Hester Bass

  1. Linda Baie says:

    My little town in Missouri where I lived until I was about 12 integrated long before the Civil Rights Act, so when I read this book, I thought of it, and that it “can” be done. It is a wonderful story that I didn’t know. Great review!

  2. Alex Baugh says:

    This is such an incredible book for kids to read and discover how things were before the Civil Rights Act and integration. Thanks for sharing it and for your review.

  3. I loved this book, too! I agree that E.B. Lewis’s illustrations are fantastic!

  4. Of COURSE I love this post!! Hester Bass is amazing, and the story of the Civil Rights movement in Huntsville, brought to life by Hester and E.B. Lewis is also amazing. Thanks, Kellee and Ricki!

  5. Earl says:

    Can’t wait to read this! Thanks!

  6. Crystal says:

    It’s great that we are getting more books that show the civil rights movement beyond Rosa Parks and MLK Jr. It helps to show that there was more than one place where things were happening and that there was more than one way that people were reacting.

  7. E.B. Lewis is so prolific – and yes, as you described masterful in his art. I will have to add this book to my multicultural text-set for my higher-degree students.

  8. I just read this book and I loved it. Thanks for sharing it.

  9. Looks just amazing. I look forward to finding it the illustrations are a wow. I so love E. B. White’s work.

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