Are you looking for books to add to your Black History Month book list? Are you looking for mentor texts to teach your students certain writing crafts? You can add Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama by Hester Bass to your list. You are going to want a copy of this beautiful new picture book.
Hester Bass sets the scene in Huntsville, Alabama. The year is 1962. So far, the people of Huntsville have managed to exist peacefully in a segregated world. Peaceful, yes, but all is not equal in Huntsville. The second page of the book holds this startling illustration, along with text reading, “A girl carries paper pictures of her feet because she won’t be allowed to try on shoes.”
She won’t be allowed to try on shoes. This page, this image, jarred me. Huntsville has a long way to go on the road to equality.
The book continues with the story of how the people of Huntsville managed to integrate peacefully. Some of the story will be familiar to you and to your students (sit-ins at lunch counters, Martin Luther King , Jr.), and some of the story will surprise its readers (a baby arrested and put in jail, Blue Jean Sunday). The end result is an inspirational story, beautifully told, about how it is possible to seek justice through peace. Seeds of Freedom does an exquisite job of describing the harsh realities of the Civil Rights struggle, while managing to uplift and inspire the reader.
Any teacher of writing will appreciate not only the historical context of this book, but also the undeniable talent of the author, Hester Bass. Here is a mere sampling of the teachable craft within the book:
- use of subheadings to indicate time/setting
- defining a word within a sentence (“Segregation – keeping people separate because of the color of their skin – is on the way out.”)
- effective repetition of a word (“Time to plan. Time for action. Time to sow the seeds of freedom.”)
- use of an extended metaphor throughout the whole text (growing a seed)
- whispering parenthesis [“Hungry for Justice? (They certainly were.)”]
- short sentences (“They are quiet and respectful, but because they are black, they are asked to leave. They don’t. The police, who don’t want this trouble, ask the ladies to go home. They won’t.”)
- one word sentences (“Clothes. Hats. Shoes.”)
- verb strings (“The children swing and slide and ride the merry-go-round.”)
- questioning the reader (“Are the seeds of freedom wilting?)
Finally, the book ends with an informative Author’s Note, in which Hester describes how the seed for this story was planted when she came across two historical markers. The Author’s Note is chock full of historical information, making this book a perfect fit into your Social Studies curriculum.
Seeds of Freedom is a fascinating and beautiful read. You will want a copy of this book for your classroom.
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The winner, chosen by a random number generator is hippodillycircus. Her comment was:
What a fantastic post with so much helpful information for teachers or parents. I love the idea of all the conventions that could be taught using this book. I really appreciate a book review that gives enough information and then still makes me want to read the book. You did that perfectly. I don’t see the email field to leave just my email address, but I love these ideas!
Thank you once again to Candlewick Press for sponsoring this giveaway.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION: This giveaway is for a copy of Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama. Many thanks to Candlewick Press for donating a copy for one reader. For a chance to win this copy of Seeds of Freedom, please leave a comment about this post by Wednesday, February 25th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Saturday, February 28th. Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, my contact at Candlewick Press will ship your book out to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.) If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – SEEDS OF FREEDOM. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.
Literacy Coach, Reader, Writer