Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins by Carol Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue tells the story of lunch counter sit-ins, a protest movement that helped end discriminatory practices in the South. Told through the eyes of a young girl, the story opens at a lunch counter. Although hot and tired, Connie and her mother must stand while drinking their Cokes. Only white customers are allowed to sit. The use of First Person helps young readers identify with Connie’s feelings of frustration and inequality and the obligation to follow the rules and conventions of society even when they feel unfair or brutal.
But, in this instance, the rule doesn’t apply equally to everybody. It singles out people of color and treats them as inferior. “Signs on water fountains, swimming pools, movie theaters, even bathrooms” identify and reinforce a policy of separate facilities. Today’s children will be baffled by the absurdity and offended by the injustice.
Freedom on the Menu strikes the perfect tone, neither strident nor inflammatory, it is steeped in the presuppositions that every voice counts and that justice and logic demands equality—equality of rights, of service, of education. At heart, young people have an internal drive for fairness. (Think of how they vigilantly monitor parents to ensure that siblings are treated equitably.) This story resonates with that innate human desire for fairness.
Readers will learn how civil disobedience and taking a stand can shine a light on discriminatory practices, awaken people to injustice and inaugurate more equitable policies. And, that such sweeping change requires courage, commitment and sacrifice.
In every generation, citizens must face moments when they have an opportunity to take a stand, to speak out and stand up for their beliefs. Freedom on the Menu provides insight on the process. It highlights the value of committed action and the difference that each of us has the potential power to make.
Today’s political climate exposes children to a daily dose of polarized commentary and reporting. It is more important than ever that we educate them to recognize truth and justice and to be committed to their ideals. They must be able to choose and defend their beliefs or they will be swept up by others more passionately committed.
AQ Lens: Freedom on the Menu showcases the importance of valuing oneself and one’s fundamental rights. Often, adoptees struggle with feelings of divided loyalty. They wrestle with guilt because they value both their families—first and adopted— and feel guilty because of these competing loyalties. We now recognize that adoptees musts live a Both/And perspective that respects all the relationships in their lives. Like the protesters, they have rights and they too will have to take a stand to ensure that those rights are respected.
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Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.
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Most Clicked Post from Last Time
The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit was Myra’s version of the linkup including her review of the absolutely charming Worm Loves Worm! (I waited in line at NCTE a few years back to get an advanced copy of this picture book – such a great way to share with kids about how love is love is love.) Thanks, Myra!
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an online bookstore for South Asian children’s books, toys and games
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