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Selma Reading List


To honor Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy, a team of expert NYPL librarians have put together a list of recommended books about Dr. King, Jr., and the Civil Rights movement to help continue the conversation beyond the film Selma. Discover books for a variety of ages below.

Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton. (4-8 yrs.) The author shares her childhood memories of the civil rights movement and her family's involvement in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery. This is an excellent introduction to the civil right movement and can be used with elementary school aged children. Raul Colon's lovely illustrations add to the text.

Marching for Freedom: Walk Together, Children, and Don't You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge. (4-8 yrs.) An account of the three months of protest that led up to the historic march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery. This is an excellent book for upper elementary and middle school students studying the civil rights movement. —Louise Lareau, Children’s Center at 42nd Street

Martin Luther King., Jr: marchar por la igualdad. By Macceca, Stephanie. (6-8 yrs.) En esta biografía de Martin Luther King, Jr., los lectores aprenderán sobre su lucha sin violencia por la igualdad de derechos de los afroamericanos. In this biography, readers will learn about Mr. King's struggles for equality of African Americans rights through nonviolence.  - Alexandra Gomez, Selection Team

Coretta Scott King: Dare to Dream by Angela Shelf Medearis. (6-8 yrs.) Part of the "Women of Our Time" series, the author shines a light on Coretta Scott King, a courageous leader in her own right. —Jenny Baum, Jefferson Market

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges (9-12 yrs.) The story of a pivotal event as seen through the eyes of the six-year old Ruby Bridges told in her words, the words of those who observed her and photographs. Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Russell Freedman (9-12 yrs.) A powerful combination narrative, words from the record and black at white photographs emphasize the effort and coordination and everyday people it took to pull off this history-changing protest. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (9-12 yrs.) Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them. When they arrive from Brooklyn, their mother estranged mother surprises them by sending them to a day-camp run by the Black Panthers. —Lynn Lobash, Readers Services

¿Quién fue Martin Luther King, Jr.? by Bader, Bonnie (9-12 yrs.). Este libro habla sobre Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., el líder de los derechos civiles, su carrera como pastor, su lucha por los derechos afroamericanos, y su legado. This book discusses the civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his career as a pastor, his fight for African American rights, and his legacy. - Alexandra Gomez, Selection Team

March: Book One by Congressman John Lewis, one of the Selma protesters. It's a graphic novel geared toward younger teens. The next book in the series comes out later this month. —Joshua Soule, Spuyten Duyvil

Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi by Susan Goldman Rubin. Before the Selma March and the Voting Rights Act in 1965 there was Freedom Summer in 1964, when volunteers across the country ventured South to register African-Americans to vote. They faced harassment, intimidation and death. Discover the heroes and villains of this eventful summer in American history. The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. In the summer of 1963, Kenny and his family "The Weird Watsons" travel from Flint, Michigan to visit their grandma in Alabama. —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street

Because They Marched :The People's Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America by Russell Freedman. A recently published book that chronicles the movement against restrictive voting laws in Alabama, highlighting the important efforts of student activists as well as lesser-known figures of the Civil Rights era. —Mina Hong, Epiphany

The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long. Inspired by the author's childhood experiences, this book chronicles the struggle of two families—divided by the color line—who come together despite the turmoil of the civil rights movement. Honest, raw, and deeply confronting, this is the type of remembrance that reminds us how far we've come. —Daniel Norton, Mid-Manhattan Library

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. Two twelve-year old girls fight segregation to remain friends in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1958. We’ve Got A Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson. The little known story of 3000 Black elementary, middle, and high school students who voluntarily went to jail in May, 1953. The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon. Sam Childs, the 13-year-old son of a civil rights activist, struggles to find his own way on the path between non-violent and violent protest. —Lynn Lobash, Readers Services

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds. With a casual, day-in-the-neighborhood style that's unique but instantly familiar, Reynolds shines a light on the dreams and challenges of a group of African-American teens in Bedford-Stuyvesant.  Realistic and frank without being gratuitously violent or vulgar, this book should satisfy fans of Walter Dean Myers, or any teen (or adult) who likes a good story driven by characters you come to know as friends.   - Jeremy Czerw, Battery Park City
Published in collaboration with the Library of Congress, Linda Barrett Osborne's Miles To Go For Freedom: Segregation & Civil Rights in the Jim Crow Years covers segregation and the early U.S. civil rights movement from 1890 to 1954, through first-person accounts, photographs, and illustrations. Spies of Mississippi: The True Story of the Spy Network That Tried to Destroy the Civil Rights Movement by Rick Bowers sheds light on the pro-segregation activities of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, which operated from 1956 to 1977 and collected secret files on 87,000 American citizens. - Thomas Knowlton, Outreach Services

The Eyes on the Prize: Civil Rights Reader. An anthology of primary source documents from the American civil rights movement. Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-1965 by Taylor Branch. The second volume in Branch's trilogy covering the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s covers the Mississippi Freedom Summer, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and of course, the Selma marches. Bearing the Cross. David Garrow’s research includes interviews hundreds of Martin Luther King’s associates and opponents, King’s personal papers and thousands of FBI files. —Tony Marx, President

Reporting Civil Rights, the Library of America's two volume collection of book excerpts, and contemporaneous articles from newspapers and magazines from over 150 writers including James Baldwin, David Halberstam, Alice Walker and Gordon Parks. Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm and Blues, Black Consciousness and Race Relations by Brian Ward examines how black music artists dealt with and pushed for racial equality in their lives and in in their music. —Wayne Roylance, Selection Team

Two books of photographic essays: In Powerful Days: The Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore a photojournalist working for Life and other news magazines chronicles the Selma March of 1965 as well as many other civil rights events happening in the South from 1958-1965. Time of Change: Civil Rights Photographs 1961-1965 by Bruce Davidson. Five photographic essays tell stories about communities in the North and South highlighting families, work, and everyday moments alongside the marches, speeches, and armed police that define civil rights imagery. —Jessica Cline, Mid-Manhattan Library

Killing Rage: Ending Racism by Bell Hooks. This collection of essays adds the often missing female voice to the conversation of race and class. In Killing Rage, Hooks discusses feelings of rage and anger sparked by of discrimination and oppression throughout she experiences throughout the day. She examines the political and cultural power structures perpetuating racism and class imbalances. In the end she deconstructs black rage, and shows how she
and others can use this rage both as an incentive to fight for change and a source of healing. Like of Hook's writing, it's as relevant today as the day it was written. —Jaqueline Woolcott, AskNYPL

Freedom's Daughters by Lynne Olson traces women's involvement in equal rights from the antebellum period through the beginnings of the Black Power movement. —Lynn Lobash, Readers Services

We Had Sneakers, They Had Guns by Tracy Sugarman tells a unique, personal history of 1964's Freedom Summer, when American students came to the Deep South to assist in voter registration efforts.   This book blends oral history, memoir, and brilliant illustrations to chronicle one of the defining events of the Civil Rights Movement. - Jeremy Czerw, Battery Park City


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The Missing Rabbi

One person the movie Selma completely ignored was the man standing RIGHT NEXT to Dr. King and Ralph Bunche -- King's confidante Rabbi Abraham Heschel. See the children's book "As Good As Anybody" by Richard Michelson.

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