Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: The Youngest Marcher

Somehow January flew by and February is nearly over and I would be remiss not to feature the newest book by Cynthia Levinson.

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist
by Cynthia Levinson; Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
Atheneum Books for Young Readers (January 17, 2017)
Nonfiction * Biography * Civil Rights
Audience: Ages 5 to 8 years
Indiebound | WorldCat
Additional Resources

Description from GoodReads
Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference.

Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else.

So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher’s words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan—picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!—she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! She was going to j-a-a-il!

Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Check out the official book trailer:

Quick thoughts on this book:
From the time I was in high school, I wondered if I could stand up for what is right when it really mattered? Could I face the insults and the potential danger to self and even imprisonment? And I have no real answer. I know when I was a principal of an elementary school I often just did what I had to in order to make sure students were safe. So, I would like to think that when it really mattered I would do the right thing. However, would I consciously volunteer to march when I knew I would be arrested? Ah, that would definitely be a tough one and even tougher decision would be the decision to allow my child march and be arrested. Yet, one nine year old, with the support of her family, did just that. 

Audrey Faye Hendricks grew up in a family who were actively involved with the Civil Rights movement. When the call was extended for adults to volunteer to "go to jail" for protesting, the adults around her were staying seated. Audrey stood up and volunteered. She was the youngest elementary school age child in the midst of teenagers who would march and be arrested on that day in 1963. 

Levinson previously wrote about the 4000 students who voluntarily went to jail in Birmingham from May 2 to 11, 1963.  In The Youngest Marcher, Levinson shines the light on Hendricks and brings her story to even younger readers. At the end of the book, Levinson includes an author's note, timeline, and sources. She also includes a recipe for Hot Rolls Baptized in Butter that I am looking forward to making. 

For older readers, check out Cynthia Levinson's We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March

About the author
Cynthia Levinson was in high school when Audrey Faye Hendricks marched to jail, and she knows she would not have been as brave as Audrey. But when Cynthia met Audrey forty-five years later, she knew she had to write a book about her for young readers. She spent more than three years interviewing marchers and researching the events. Her book We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March tells the story for older readers. Cynthia has also written about social justice in Watch Out for Flying Kids: How Two Circuses, Two Countries, and Nine Kids Confront Conflict and Build Community. She and her husband divide their time between Austin, Texas, and Boston, Massachusetts. Find her at her website | facebook | twitter 

Look for both of these book at your local bookstores or community library. 

Illustration by Sarah S Brannen @2017

Illustration by Sarah S Brannen @2017

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