children's books · non-fiction

SIT-IN: How four friends stood up by sitting down by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Sit-InSit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney is a wonderful book to teach children about the Civil Rights Movement and the work of young African American students as they fought against the injustice of segregation. The illustrations are vibrant and energetic, filled with the hope and energy of the students standing up for their rights by sitting down.

I was able to hear Andrea Davis Pinkney speak about picture books earlier this month, and she talked about how she presents this book to the young students she visits. Asking them to raise their hand if they’ve ever been to a restaurant, and asking again if they’ve ever been to a restaurant but were refused service, and then the hands drop.

How might that make you feel?

What would you do?

Sit-In is filled with beautiful language and rhythm, the oft repeated refrain, “their order was simple. A doughnut and coffee, with cream on the side.” Andrea Davis Pinkney does a wonderful job of including the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the text, as well as the work of Elle Baker in developing SNCC, that help illustrate different parts of the movement working together. We are not given a book just with Dr. King, Jr.’s words, but a book that incorporates his words and how they helped shape a call to action.

A civil rights timeline and additional information about the sit-ins is included as well as a bibliography. A great poetic book to share with young readers and begin a conversation about the civil rights movement, the importance of integration, and how this world is a better place when we’re treated equally.

“Their order was simple: A double dose of peace, with nonviolence on top. Hold the hate. Leave off the injustice.”

Find it at your local independent bookstore, Powell’s, or your local library.

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down, published in 2010 by Little, Brown and Company, Hatchett Book Group

ISBN:978-0-316-07016-4

Ages: 6 and up

Grades: 1 and up

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