Let The Children March - Book Review

We were washing dishes the other night when my son said…

Him: There’s this song I really like, but I can’t remember all the words.

Me: What do you remember?

Him: Something about…deep in my heart…

Me: We Shall Overcome?

Him: Yes, that’s it. I love that song.

I love it, too. This song is briefly touched on in Monica Clark-Robinson poetic new picture book, Let The Children March. Frank Morrison's bold illustrations are perfectly paired with the text. Neither the author of illustrator shy away from the difficulties of the subject matter; however, they present the topic of with a unity and optimism that is contagious.

Let the Children March Cover.jpg

This book covers the Birmingham Campaign in 1963, from organization to desegregation. It has end not material that goes through 1965, but the bulk of the material is about the first half of 1963.

The story is told in the first person, and follows a young child through three days of marching. The child faces fire hoses, dogs, and time in jail. While in jail the main character and other children sing, "We Shall Overcome," overcrowded cells.

The first person point of view can be a particularly challenging for picture books because it lends itself to a more limited view. However, the author balances this out by sharing dialogue from civil rights leaders. Readers will get both a highly personal account of what it was like to be a young marcher with enough information to see the larger picture...all while maintaining a consistent child voice throughout the story. No small feat! This story is extremely well done.

The front and back the book has additional facts and information, like, "as many as three thousand children and teens were arrested..." There is also a timeline, photos, and bibliography.

It's an inspiring read for both children and adults.

Hannah Holt