The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, A Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Summary:  Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, nine-year-old Audrey Hendricks heard talk of civil rights marches from dinner guests Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Shuttlesworth, and James Bevel.  Audrey was eager to get involved, feeling the unfairness of having to use a dirty water fountain, getting worn-out books at school, and riding the freight elevator at the department store.  When Jim Bevel called on young people to “fill the jails” by protesting, Audrey eagerly signed up.  The youngest member of the march, she was quickly arrested with other kids and teens, and put in jail, where she stayed for a week.  With bad food, an uncomfortable bed, and mean guards, it was a tough time for Audrey, but she was proud when, on the fifth day, she learned there was no more room in the jail.  Their mission was accomplished, Audrey and the others were released, and two months later, Birmingham removed segregation laws from the books. Includes an author’s note giving more information about Audre, a timeline, and a recipe for the “hot rolls baptized with butter” that Audrey enjoyed for her first meal out of jail.  40 pages; grades 1-5.

Pros:  Cynthia Levinson draws on her research from We’ve Got a Job, her longer book on the Birmingham Children’s March, to tell this fascinating story for younger readers.  Kids will connect with Audrey and be inspired by her courage and positive attitude.

Cons: It’s pretty unbelievable that a nine-year-old spent a week in jail in 20th-century America.

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