A Lesson In, Uh, Civil Rights?

The Story of Ruby Bridges

Last night I read a book to Annika on civil rights called, The Story of Ruby Bridges. It’s an elementary version of school integration about a 6-year-old girl, one of the first black children to go to school in white school.

The story details a mild version of the girl who was honored to be the first black child in her all-white school.

I had been given the book as a gift and wasn’t sure that Annika was ready for it, but when we moved, she found it sticking out of a box and insisted on reading it. We’ve been reading it for the past four nights, every night.

I have finally come to the conclusion that most books should not be edited much since she will mostly tell me when she doesn’t like something. Knowing my own curious nature, I understand the need to explore things that are uncomfortable.

So, I read the book about a 6-year-old, (in my head screaming, “Oh my god, she’s a baby! How could her parents make her go through this??!!”) walking through an angry mob of white people angry that this child is going to “their” neighborhood school, while being guarded by armed federal police.

Ruby spends the day all alone in her school room, with her teacher, Mrs. Henry, who wonders how this child is so calm in the face of such adversity.

She's been a reader from the beginning.

As I’ve read this book over the past few nights, tonight, I decided to ask Annika what she thought of the book. Before I did, however,  about halfway through, she stopped me and asked me, “Mama, what’s a mob?”

I explained in small detail that its a crowd of people who are usually angry about something.

Then at the end of the book, I finally say, after wondering what she’s thought of the book all week, “Do you have any questions about this story?”

And she says to me, “Why is the teacher’s name Henry?”