March: Book One Book Poster Image

March: Book One

Powerful graphic novel captures spirit of desegregation.

What parents need to know

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

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.


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.

Not applicable

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

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

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

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Authors:John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
Illustrator:Nate Powell
Topics:Friendship, Great boy role models, History, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publisher:Top Shelf
Publication date:August 13, 2013
Number of pages:128
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Available on:Paperback, Nook, iBooks, Kindle
Awards:ALA Best and Notable Books, Coretta Scott King Medal and Honors

This review of March: Book One was written by

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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, along with showing how a family killed chickens), strong language (hell, bitch, the "N" word (which is used frequently)), make this book a scary one. But the messages that it gives, the education, and the role models make this book a hit! But this book scared me a bit, so I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
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 but true to life. Our boys started listening to the trilogy (read aloud by parents) when they were 5 and this led to many difficult but necessary discussions about race relations then and now. We have now read all three books and even we're able to hear the authors speak about the impetus for this novel. We continue to reread them. The period that is described in the book is very violent and the language was awful. And I think it is important for families to read this book together.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence