Books that Promote Peace & Nonviolence


The Story of Ruby Bridges

Robert Coles

Story of Ruby Bridges 
Robert Coles  George Ford (Illustrator)

 Story of Ruby Bridges
Story of Ruby Bridges

Synopsis
"Ruby Bridges was the first African American child to attend an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960. Coles tells the brief story of her daily walk past . . . white adults, her time alone with her teacher in an otherwise empty classroom because white parents kept their children home, and the . . . moment when she prays in front of the . . . crowd for God to forgivethem. An afterword explains that later in the school year, parents slowly began to send their children back to school and eventually the crowd dispersed. . . . Grades one to three." (SLJ)

Annotation
For months six-year-old Ruby Bridges must confront the hostility of white parents when she becomes the first African American girl to integrate Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960.

From the Publisher
A Pulitzer Prize-winning author and a Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator bring to life the true story of an extraordinary six-year-old who helped shape American history when she became the first African-American sent to first grade in an all white school. This moving picture book captures the courage of a little girl standing alone in the face of racism. Full color.

From the Critics
From Publisher's Weekly - Publishers Weekly  
Ruby Bridges was the sole African American child to attend a New Orleans elementary school after court-ordered desegregation in 1960. Noted research psychiatrist Coles tells how federal marshals escorted the intrepid six-year-old past angry crowds of white protestors thronging the school. Parents of the white students kept them home, and so Ruby "began learning how to read and write in an empty classroom, an empty building." Although there are disappointingly few words from Ruby herself, Coles's use of quotes from her teacher adds to the story's poignancy ("Sometimes I'd look at her and wonder how she did it.... How she went by those mobs and sat here all by herself and yet seemed so relaxed and comfortable"). The story has a rather abrupt ending; the concluding page reprints the prayer that Ruby said daily, asking God to forgive the protesters. Coles cursorily finishes the tale of Ruby's unsettling year in an afterword (two boys and then the rest of the students returned to school; the mobs dispersed by the time Ruby entered second grade). Ford (Bright Eyes, Brown Skin; Paul Robeson) contributes affecting watercolors that play up Ruby's moral courage. Ages 5-9. (Feb.)
 
From Susie Wilde - Children's Literature  
Ruby Bridges was six years old when she was chosen to be one of the first black children to enter the New Orleans school system. She became a focus for racial hatred and bitterness, but nothing could stop her from daily uttering a prayer of forgiveness for those who surrounded her with words of ill will.
 
From Jan Lieberman - Children's Literature  
This story tugs at our conscience as we read of 6-year-old Ruby who was the first black child to integrate an all white school in New Orleans in 1960. What hurdles she had to overcome as she faced mobs of angry whites hurling insults as she walked to school each day with the federal marshals. Maintaining dignity and courage throughout this ordeal, she set an example that will be remembered for all time. Touching illustrations portray the times and loneliness of Ruby. Update on Ruby: she is currently the parent coordinator at the same school she integrated!
 
From School Library Journal  
Gr 1-3-Ruby Bridges was the first African American child to attend an all-white elementary school in New Orleans in 1960. Coles tells the brief story of her daily walk past furious white adults, her time alone with her teacher in an otherwise empty classroom because white parents kept their children home, and the dramatic moment when she prays in front of the furious crowd for God to forgive them. An afterword explains that later in the school year, parents slowly began to send their children back to school and eventually the crowd dispersed. Although neither the text nor the realistic watercolors are notable, children will find the story of Ruby's courage and steadfastness inspiring. It has a strong religious element with a scene of Ruby's family in church, as well as the dramatic picture of Ruby praying, which will please readers who find too few references to religion in their books.-Kathleen Odean, Moses Brown School, Providence, RI
 
From Hazel Rochman - BookList  
Sustained by family and faith, one brave six-year-old child found the strength to walk alone through howling protesters and enter a whites-only school in New Orleans in 1960. Ruby Bridges did it every day for weeks that turned into months. The white parents withdrew their kids, and Ruby sat alone with her teacher in an empty classroom in an empty building and learned her lessons. Harvard professor Cole has written powerful adult books about children in crisis and about children's moral and political lives. Here he tells one girl's heroic story, part of the history of ordinary people who have changed the world. He tells it quietly, as an adult, and the simplicity is moving, though kids might want some indication of Ruby's personal experience, what it was like to be her. Ford's moving watercolor paintings mixed with acrylic ink are predominantly in sepia shades of brown and red. They capture the physical warmth of Ruby's family and community, the immense powers against her, and her shining inner strength.

 


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