March: Book One

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
March: Book One Book Poster Image
Powerful graphic novel captures spirit of desegregation.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

March opens a window on a world much different from today: Alabama in the days of Jim Crow and segregation. It follows Congressman John Lewis from his childhood on an Alabama chicken farm through his life-changing encounter with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to his participation in the Nashville student movement, when he battled to end segregation through nonviolent protest at department-store lunch counters.

Positive Messages

Again and again, March emphasizes the power of non-violent civil protest. John Lewis and his fellow students look to the practices of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a means of achieving social change.

Positive Role Models & Representations

John Lewis is presented as a sensitive, kindhearted child, who's willing to resist authority, parental or otherwise, when his beliefs are at stake. As he matures, he sees that he needs to stand up for his fellow African-Americans, even in the face of violence. He understands, however, that nonviolence will win the day.

Violence

There are a handful of violent scenes in March, but they're historically accurate and presented without exploitation or unnecessary bloodshed. Black protestors on the Edmund Pettus Bridge are beaten by police, as are students who demand service at the food counters at department stores in Nashville. A single panel shows the battered body of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old murdered in Mississippi.

Sex
Language

The "N" word is used frequently in scenes where protestors, bystanders, and police clash in March.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

John Lewis and his fellow protestors are trained to ignore having cigarette smoke blown in their faces.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that March is a powerful look back at the early days of the civil rights movement in the American South. Both a history and a memoir of Congressman John Lewis' early life, this first of a planned trilogy emphasizes the power of nonviolent protest and shows how people can band together to effect social change. It contains some violence, including beatings by police and the murder of a 14-year-old boy, but these scenes are not graphic or lingered upon. Bigoted characters use the "N" word throughout the book, but there's no other objectionable language.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byJulie W. January 13, 2017

Excellent compelling real history

This book is an honest and forthright book about Representaitve John Lewis and his participation in the Civil Rights movement. The events and language are harsh... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old February 8, 2014

Edgy book has tons of strong violence and strong language, but still great!

This book I was really interested in when I got it at my bookstore, but when I read it, it was EXTREMELY edgy. Strong violence (including the protest violence,... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byCatcatcat August 22, 2017

Boring

It wasn't scary... I'd say it's apprropriate for a 6 year old minus the bad words... just really boring and hard to follow... if I were u I would... Continue reading

What's the story?

MARCH follows real-life U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.) from his early days on his family's Alabama chicken farm, where he objected to the way his beloved birds were killed, through his education about the birth of the civil rights movement, up to his experiences as a nonviolent student protester. Much of this graphic novel focuses on the sit-ins at Nashville department-store lunch counters in 1960 and how they led to a confrontation on the steps of the town's city hall.

Is it any good?

March is a powerful testament to the courage and resourcefulness of those who fought and died for equal rights. By writing about his childhood and education, John Lewis, with the scripting assistance of Andrew Aydin, makes the tale personal, while offering glimpses of larger-than-life figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nate Powell's black-and-white artwork clearly illustrates the action and gives each character a mark of uniqueness. Highly recommended.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the United States is different now compared with 50 years ago. How have attitudes about race changed over the course of those decades?

  • Is nonviolence more effective than other methods of protest? Why do you think Martin Luther King, Jr. told his followers to always be polite and to not fight back?

  • What role did religion play in the civil rights movement? What religious practices or beliefs foster social change?

Book details

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