Parents' Guide to

Stella by Starlight

By Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Compelling, nuanced tale of loving family under segregation.

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Kids say (5):

STELLA BY STARLIGHT is a compelling, relatable story inspired by the author's memories of her own grandmother's childhood tales. It deftly brings home the perilous realities defining African-American life in the rural, segregated South, from the Ku Klux Klan burning down the house of an African-American family whose father had just registered to vote to the thousand daily slights and insults. But, against that ominous backdrop, Stella's family and neighbors stand strong, held together by faith, hope, charity, and a lot of courage. Most modern-day kids will be startled by details Stella takes for granted, not only that she and the other African-American kids can't go to the white school (which, of course, has much better facilities) but that they all go to school barefoot because they don't own shoes.

Stella by Starlight (the same title as the jazz standard, written in 1944) is an appealing, thought-provoking read for kids and adults -- and a standout for introducing kids to a difficult chapter in U.S. history with compelling courage and relatable characters rather than graphic violence. Expect interesting conversations.

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