With Martin Luther King Day and Black History Month I think it's a great time to introduce my first grade class to the topic of civil rights. I love that they are growing up in homes and communities that teach them that everyone should be treated fairly. I often wish for a little more diversity in our community, but even still my little guys are appalled to hear how people were treated in the 1960s. I always start with the story of Ruby Bridges. I can't think of a better way to introduce this than a first grade girl who goes to school all by herself. This is an amazing true story that really makes my students think.
Here is another version written by Ruby herself. It's written as an "easy reader" version.
The Story of Ruby Bridges lends itself to plenty of discussion. How would it feel to go to school alone? Do you think Ruby's parents were afraid for her? Why was it a brave thing for Ruby to go to the new school? Would you do what Ruby did? Most of all I think this book shows that even a small child can stand up for what is right.
You might also like White Socks Only. This fictional account of a young girl who makes a difference in her southern community also lends itself to some great critical thinking and discussion.
We used The Story of Ruby Bridges for interactive writing too.