Let the Children March

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Let the Children March Book Poster Image
Powerful art amplifies inspiring civil rights protest tale.

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age 4+
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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Recounts the history of the Birmingham Children's Crusade -- the protest march that helped end government-sanctioned segregation in Alabama. Back matter gives more historical information, with three archival photographs of the marchers. End papers trace significant historical moments, from Alabama Gov. George Wallace declaring "segregation forever" in his inaugural speech Jan. 14, 1963, through the day the national Voting Rights Act was passed, Aug. 6, 1965, which ended practices that had kept African Americans from exercising their right to vote. 

Positive Messages

Stand up for what's right. Peaceful protests can be a successful way to accomplish positive change. Segregation is wrong. All Americans are equal under the law. Even if you're young, you're not too young to want your freedom. Children can be leaders. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., organizes the march, inspires and stands by the protesters, and negotiates with white city leaders to end segregation. The young narrator and her brother are brave and strong, as are their fellow protesters. Their parents are loving and appreciative of their kids' sacrifice. 

Violence & Scariness

Image of kids having water shot at them from hoses as police dogs tear at their clothing. Image on TV of a girl being blasted by water. Image of a cop grabbing/pushing our narrator by the back of her neck as she sings a freedom song in jail. Picture of a woman reaching out to protesters in a police wagon as a cop with a billy club aggressively holds her back. Scene of white townspeople yelling at the kid marchers, with one marching girl crying as she goes by them. Photo of protesters huddling against a wall as water cannon sprays them. 


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Let the Children March, by Monica Clark-Robinson and illustrated by Frank Morrison, won a 2019 Coretta Scott King (Illustrator ) Honor. It's the story of the Children's Crusade, which began May 2, 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama, when kids and teens marched to protest discriminatory Jim Crow laws. There are images of police shooting water from hoses at marchers (in both illustrations and archival photos) and police dogs tearing kid protesters' clothing. 

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Kid, 9 years old February 19, 2019

Let the Children March

I thought that Let the Children March was a really great and inspiring book. It's about times where people of color where thought badly off. Martin Luther... Continue reading

What's the story?

LET THE CHILDREN MARCH tells the story of the 1963 Brimingham Children's Crusade, narrated by a ficitonal young girl who volunteers for it. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. organizes a peaceful march for May 2 to protest segregationist Jim Crow laws, and kids volunteer to march to avoid the risk of their parents losing their jobs if they did. "By the end of the day, 973 young marchers were jailed." The next day more protesters, mostly children, are arrested -- close to 1,000 people -- and police use high-pressure water hoses to control the crowds. The third day they use water and and police dogs, and our narrator is thrown into a police wagon and sent to jail. Kids and adults continue to protest through March 9. "The water hoses they used to sting us/ could not stop our fierce tide." Thousands of young people are imprisoned. "But we had been heard, and the seeds of revolution were sown!" On May 10, "Dr. King had reached an agreement with the white leaders of the city. Desegregation would begin." The girl and her brother are reunited with their parents, and a month later are playing on a playground they'd never been allow to play on before. Two months later, the family eats at a diner they'd never been allowed to eat in before. "Our march made a difference. We children led the way." 

Is it any good?

In simple, dramatic scenes and spare text, a young girl walks readers through the momentous events of the historic Birmingham Children's Crusade of 1963. Let the Children March shows kids overcoming fear and risking danger and imprisonment to stand up for what's right -- and to protect their parents, who feared losing their jobs if they protested. Through her young narrator, author Monica Clark-Robinson brings readers close to how it felt to be one of those marchers. And Frank Morrison's vivid oil paintings feature many close-ups that drive home the emotions of the child participants and the white townspeople and police who opposed them.

Back matter gives more historical information, with three archival photographs of the marchers. And superb end papers highlight significant historical moments cleverly displayed on signs held by children -- from Alabama Gov. George Wallace's Jan. 14, 1963, declaration of "segregation forever" to the passage of the Voting Rights Act on Aug. 6, 1965, which "ended practices that had barred African Americans from their right to vote."

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For kids who love civil rights stories

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