Parents' Guide to

The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963

By Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Family faces everyday and traumatic events in touching tale.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 21 parent reviews

age 13+

Awful book for young kids

This book has adult language, sexual innuendos, and violence (bullying, name calling, etc). Definitely a PG 13 rating.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
1 person found this helpful.
age 13+

Great for teens, not so great for tweens

Realizing there was NO actual sex, there was more innuendo than necessary. I really enjoyed the Watson family and the book did prompt me to delve into certain aspects of history that were depicted! The historical content is great but the emotional content presented requires more maturity. For instance, there were some parts that touched on developing sexuality that I think a 13 year old would have a healthier time processing than a 10-12 year old. The mention of smart kids and dirty magazines was unnecessary, the interaction of the parents during the car record player sequence was fine because married but still more appropriate for a teen reader. The prefrontal cortex brain development of a 10-12 year old should not have to process this... no matter the level of reader. In my opinion, the darkness of the "Wool Pooh" and the momentary dealings with loss of a sibling were too emotionally charged for a 10-12 year old's brain /emotional development as well. Some questions for discussion between a parent/child could be: 1) Are there any views presented that could change as the character grows older? If so, how? 2) Did any of the content seem to personal to you or to any of your friends? 3) Were your views on racial tension in history and present day altered by reading this? If so, how?

This title has:

Educational value
Too much sex
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (21):
Kids say (52):

This novel is full of funny, touching, relatable moments in the life of a 10-year-old boy in the South during the civil rights era. Kenny makes friends (and some mistakes along the way), fights with his big brother, and half understands his parents' struggles to keep their family on an even keel. At the beginning of the book, Kenny refers to his family as the Weird Watsons, but in reality they are a very average, loving, lower-middle-class American family, and this renders what happens in Birmingham all the more shocking. Readers have gotten comfortable inside the Watsons' family life by the time things explode.

Author Christopher Paul Curtis has a wonderful ease with creating relatable young characters, and in this novel he also educates readers about the life and times of Black Americans during the early 1960s. The events are fictional, but just barely, as they relate to real-life tragedies that occurred. This important book contains frightening events and a strong message. Younger readers will do best to read this in a classroom setting or with a parent.

Book Details

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