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Landmark Events in American History: The 1963 Civil Rights March Review by Melissa Theberge

Scott Ingram
Weekly Reader
3001 Cindel Drive
Delran, NJ 08075

The impact of the Civil Rights March of 1963 is still unfolding today, making it a landmark event indeed. It seems like a difficult task to encapsulate such a significant historical event into a book for children, but this 48-page soft-cover book accomplishes the task well. While it was written with fourth through eighth graders in mind, the book would serve well as a read-aloud for younger children too. Older children would find the reading level to be easy but not childish, and the information would provide a starting point for more detailed research about the march.

The book includes five chapters which organize the relevant information very well: "From Slavery to Segregation," "The Civil Rights Movement," "Planning the March," "A Day in Washington, D.C.," and "New Voices of Protest." I appreciate the range and depth of coverage and the fact that the book does not focus on just the one main event or leader. Also discussed in detail are the Greensboro sit-in, Medgar Evers' assassination, the Big Six who planned the march, and the somewhat disappointing outcome of the march.

The layout of the pages is interesting and inviting, with numerous relevant photos and captions, bold-print key words that can be found in the glossary, sidebars of important quotes, and information boxes that delve into greater detail on important topics. The variety of photos is important to note, because often we are familiar with just a handful of historical photos that we've seen over and over. This book includes several I had never seen before.

Additional resources in the book include a timeline of events beginning with the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, a glossary of more than 20 important words, and a page of websites and books for additional research. A detailed index makes it possible for an older child to find specific information, making this book a resource that can meet the needs of many children in a homeschool setting. My one disappointment was the lack of large portions of the original speeches, especially since Martin Luther King's speech, in particular, is so widely celebrated and studied.

Our family celebrated the Martin Luther King holiday with a reading of this book, and it enhanced our recognition of the day in a way I hadn't anticipated. We will refer to it again soon as we progress through our study of the 20th century, and I recommend it as an enhancement to history or civil rights studies.

Product review by Melissa Theberge, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2009