Thursday, February 11, 2010

Riding to Washington Book Review and a Black History Month Book Giveaway

In honor of Black History Month, this past Tuesday evening President and Mrs. Obama hosted In Performance at the White House, “A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement.” Several top musicians performed including Yolanda Adams, Jennifer Hudson and others. We plan on watching the performance on television with the kids and introduce them to music that played a part in the quest for freedom and equality. The performance airs nationwide on PBS stations beginning tonight, Thursday, February 11th. (Check local listings)

In the Wall Street Journal's coverage of the concert the president is quoted as saying, “Dr. King himself once acknowledged that he didn’t see ‘the real meaning of the movement’ until he saw young people singing in the face of hostility." There are many picture books that introduce children to Martin Luther King, Jr., the African-American civil rights movement leader. His most famous speech, "I Have a Dream," given in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, is also the subject of many books.

Recently I had the chance to review a book about the civil rights movement, Dr. King's speech and the people who traveled to Washington to take part in the movement. The book, Riding to Washington, also introduces readers to two freedom songs that capture the spirit of the civil rights movement.

"Dr. King's speech sounded fine. The way he said it was just like music. But I wondered to myself: why is he telling me about his dream? What's it got to do with me." Riding to Washington by Gwenyth Swain, illustrated by David Geister

In the book Riding to Washington by Gwenyth Swain, a spunky young white girl named Janie describes her experiences as she rides on a bus from Indianapolis to Washington, D.C., and stands in the crowd watching Dr. King speak at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. Her fellow passengers are black and white people from several different backgrounds. She encounters acts of discrimination when restaurants won't serve "mixed crowds" and a restroom door reads, "No Coloreds." In one particular eye-opening moment, she stands up for what is right and realizes that Dr. King's dreams pertains to all and that every individual has the power to bring about change.

A work of historical fiction, Riding to Washington is part of the Tales of Young American Series and provides a powerful depiction from an unusual perspective of the March on Washington. Swain's own father and grandfather both participated in the civil rights march and parts of the story are based on their memories. David Geister's well-researched period illustrations accurately show the clothing styles and buses found in the 1960's. His painting of the crowd in front of the Lincoln Memorial is particularly awe-inspiring. Interestingly enough, all the illustrations and the text in the book focus not on Dr. King, but on the people that boarded the buses and attended the march. The book's text also highlights a couple freedom songs, "This Little Light of Mine" and "Get on Board, Children." An author's note on the last page provides some historical facts and details the inspiration behind the book. Because the book captures a snapshot of the 1960's, the wording in the book uses terms from this time period like "coloreds." The book would be appropriate for grades 1 and up and would work well for units on the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Black History Month.
Riding to Washington by Gwenyth Swain, illustrated by David Geister. Sleeping Bear Press; (December 2007); 40 pages; ISBN 9781585363247

Related links:
Riding to Washington Teachers Guide
Gwenyth Swain - Author Website
David Geister - Illustrator Website

In celebration of Black History Month, we made mosaic accordion fan hearts for our stART project. First we made a scribble picture, drawing a continuous, entangled black line that loops all over the paper. Then we colored in some of the scribble shapes in black, leaving the rest white. We cut the drawing into a capsule shape, accordion folded it lengthwise, and then folded the accordion in half to make a heart shape. (Craft tutorial at On a Whimm). For more books appropriate for various ages that embrace Black History, see PBSParents Books that Bring the Black Experience to Life.

Thanks to Sleeping Bear Press, three (3) Brimful Curiosities readers will win a book of their choice from the six featured Black History month books shown, Riding to Washington, Let Them Play, Pappy's Handkerchief, D is for Drinking Gourd, The Listeners, or Friend on Freedom River.

To enter, leave a comment with the title of a Sleeping Bear Press book you would like to win from the six shown.
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US
• Contest ends on Monday, March 1st, 2010 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random and sent an email notification.
Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4; please leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
2nd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.
3rd extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader

Book Source: Review copy provided by publisher. I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)


Unknown said...

This looks like a wonderful book, and I can tell i would love the illustrations (I'm a sucker for good pictures). Thank you for the review!

annies home said...

my choice would be D is for drinking gourd. I love all of these books many of which I have read and shared

annies home said...


ossmcalc said...

This is a wonderful selection of books in honor of Black History Month. I would like to have Friend on Freedom River.

Thank you,


ossmcalc said...

I follow you on Twitter and tweeted about this giveaway

Thank you,


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'd pick Friend on Freedom River.

Thanks for the contest!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Kristie said...

I would love to win D is for Drinking Gourd.

khmorgan_00 [at] yahoo [dot] com

KR said...

Hard to choose! I'd pick Let Them Play.


KR said...

I follow on Twitter and tweeted!

Anonymous said...

Great books. I'd love to win Riding To Washington.

Line said...

I would love to win D is for Drinking Gourd - would be a great addtition to our library.

clariline08 at yahoo dot com

Line said...

This is my second entry - I subscribe to your feed in my Google Reader.

clariline08 at yahoo dot com

Winning Readings said...

D is for Drinking Gourd is my choice!

We posted about this giveaway at Winning Readings:

Janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Kaizen Fashion Project said...

Twitter follower!


Kaizen Fashion Project said...


Benita said...

Great selection! I'd pick Friend on Freedom River.


apple blossom said...

Pappy's Handkerchief would be a nice book. Thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

wmmahaney said...

Friend on Freedom River looks wonderful.

tina reynolds said...

I pick let them play to read to my son thanks

First Children Fiction said...

First edition books are collector's items and are definitely great to own. While first editions of some books can be exorbitantly costly and out of reach for common people, hyper modern first edition books are often available at reasonable price.