Important history is often made of small moments. On August 23rd, 1963, almost one-year old, Sharon Langley took her first ride on a carousel at the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Baltimore, Maryland. Her father stood beside her to make certain she stayed in the saddle. On the first page of text in A Ride To Remember: A Civil Rights Story, told in the first person by Sharon Langley and award-winning iNK coauthor Amy Nation, a point is made:
"I love carousels.
"The horses come in so many colors--black, white, brown, gray, a honey shade of tan, sunny yellow, fire engine red, or even a soft baby blue. But no matter their colors, the horses all go at the same speed as they circle round and round. They start together. They finish together, too. Nobody is first and nobody is last. Everyone is equal when you ride a carousel"
What follows is a moving story (for 6-9 year olds) of the desegregation of a popular amusement park that had long been for whites only. But Sharon didn't get that ride by accident. It was preceded by a community coming together in protest, on more than one occasion. And four hundred people of all races, even children, were jailed. Coincidentally, (or maybe not) Sharon's ride came on the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was making his "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington.
The illustrations by Floyd Cooper, a Coretta Scott King Award winner, have an appropriate retro feel. They also have a loving softness that belies the potential for violence and hate and projects the arc towards justice. The back matter includes a discussion of Amy Nathan's previous YA book
Round and Round Together: Taking a Merry-Go-Round Ride into the Civil Rights Movement, an engaging read of local history, meticulously researched.
iNK's mission, as a nonprofit, is to show educators that well-written books by top authors make a huge difference in the learning experience of both teachers and students. There are plenty of supportive anecdotes by teachers who have used our books in their classes but what happens when a book is the foundation of an important part of the curriculum of several schools?
Round and Round Together: Taking a Merry-Go-Round Ride into the Civil Rights Movement is now a regular part of the curriculum in 7th grade language arts classes in Baltimore County Public Schools. The teachers have paired the book with other works of black history and culture of that time period including Margot Lee Shetterly's book Hidden Figures and Lorraine Hansberry's play, A Raisin in the Sun. For more information on the use of trade books in the classroom, contact Aimee Hutchison, Resource Teacher, Office of Secondary English/Lauguage Arts, Baltimore County Public Schools: firstname.lastname@example.org
iNK author, Amy Nathan, sums up her book, written for a YA audience:
"The book presents the evolution of the protests at Gwynn Oak over a 9 year period from 1955 to 1963 -- going from low-key picketing just once a summer — to having large numbers of protesters in two major events in July 1963 with mass arrests, showing the evolution in the civil rights movement as a whole, as activists in Baltimore learned from the more successful protests that went on farther South: the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-6), and Lunch Counter Sit-Ins that started in North Carolina (1960), and the Freedom Rides (1961). These more effective tactics. . . . . were: having lots of protesters, keeping the pressure up, getting good TV and newspaper coverage, and, with the Freedom Rides, using mass arrests."
Baltimore is also the home of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, which had long been involved in educating local school children about local history. Nathan, used the museum as a source when creating the book, which was published in 2011. In 2013-2014 the Maryland State Department of Education's civil rights curriculum asked Nathan to write a lesson on the book that is free to everyone and they field-tested the use of the book. It must have gone well because Baltimore County ordered 2,000 copies and prepared to use it
Publication Date 1/7/2020