Monday, December 24, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: We've Got a Job by Cynthia Levinson

Nonfiction Monday is a weekly meme in the Kidlitosphere that invites bloggers to read and review a nonfiction book on Monday as a way to promote high-quality nonfiction titles.  Each week, a different blogger "hosts" Nonfiction Monday and provides a roundup of all the posts.  This week Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Jean Little Library.

We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March by Cynthia Levinson

Did you realize that in the spring of 1963, the civil rights movement in Birmingham, Alabama was floundering?  That Martin Luther King Jr. was somewhat of a persona non grata among civil rights workers in Birmingham? Or that it took the courageousness of children to reignite the movement and bring about change? Yup.  Me neither.

Author Cynthia Levinson spent years researching the civil rights movement in Birmingham, AL, interviewing march participants (who in 1963 were just children), working with local historians and archivists to read and review primary and secondary documents, and resolving differences in first-person accounts.  The end result is her masterfully researched and documented We've Got a Job: the 1963 Birmingham Children's March.  The book, which takes a comprehensive look at the fight for civil rights in Birmingham, AL, follows four African-American children who were personally involved in the children's march. James, Audrey, Washington and Arnetta came from very different backgrounds and followed very different paths in life, but all grew up in segregated Birmingham and participated in the children's march.  In addition to following the stories of these four young activists, Levinson provides extensive information about the challenges that African Americans faced in Birmingham and throughout the South, the strategies and motivations of those that sought to keep them oppressed, and how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together.  Using first-person accounts, archival photos and the text of primary documents from the time period, Levinson has created a moving - and at times shocking - work of nonfiction that covers a seldom discussed piece of the civil rights movement.  Not to be missed.

Recommended for any person - young or old - with an interest in the civil rights movement and the power of children to advocate for change and work for justice.

We've Got a Job is one of five finalists for the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award.  The winner will be announced at the Youth Media Awards on Tuesday, January 28, 2013.

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