Family Travel Friday
Book: Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds
By Jennifer Close
On December 1, 1955 one moment changed everything.
Back of the Bus is a story about Rosa Park’s confrontation on a segregated bus told from the point of view of a young child. The child is sitting in the back of the bus with his mom. He plays with his tiger’s eye marble, watching it roll back and forth, with the innocence of a child. Suddenly, he realizes that something is wrong. The bus isn’t moving and people around him are getting angry but he isn’t sure why.
Rosa Parks is asked to move to the back of the bus but she refuses. The bus driver refuses to move the bus and he calls the police. When the police arrive, Rosa Parks is led away in handcuffs.
The child watches Rosa Parks as she refuses to move.
“But she’s sittin’ right there, her eyes all fierce like a lightnin’ storm, like maybe she does belong up there. And I start thinkin’ maybe she does too.”
Dialogue like that coupled with beautiful illustrations help to tell the story of Rosa Parks and her defiant stand. The cover illustration caught my eye first and I flipped through the entire book just looking at the illustrations before realizing that I hadn’t read a single word. After going back to the first page and reading the book, I knew that I would have to add it to my children’s library.
As the child watches the situation unfold, he wants to know what is wrong but his mom tells him not to worry because it will all be forgotten tomorrow. The child senses that the event will not be forgotten and we also know that it isn’t forgotten. This moment in history is still studied in schools around the nation.
Montgomery, Alabama has many opportunities to help your children learn more about the Civil Rights Movement. Read this story before visiting the Rosa Parks Library & Museum and Children’s Wing. The children’s wing takes visitors back in time to share background on segregation and slavery in America. Learn about the Freedom Rides story at the museum located at the historic Greyhound Bus Station.
In addition to learning more about the Civil Rights Movement in Montgomery, Alabama, there are lots of family friendly activities. The Alabama Shakespeare Festival presents world-class plays that both children and adults will enjoy. Country music lovers will want to plan a visit to the Hank William’s Memorial and Museum and the kids will enjoy the Montgomery Zoo.
We are planning a weekend getaway to Montgomery this summer so in preparation for our trip we read this book together. My daughter sat wide-eyed having a hard time understanding why Ms. Parks was arrested for sitting on the bus and my son, who is a little older, wanted to know why so many people cared where she sat. A visit to the Rosa Parks children’s wing is definitely on the itinerary to help them understand more about segregation and this part of American history.
Jennifer Close is a regular Contributor to A Traveler’s Library,on Family Travel Friday once a month. She shares her knowledge of children’s literature and experiences with family travel. You can follow her family’s travels at Two Kids and a Map.
Photos used here are from Flickr, used with a Creative Commons license. Please click on the photo to learn more about the photographer.
It is the policy of A Traveler’s Library to disclose affiliate links. If you shop by clicking the link to a book title, it may take you to Amazon. Although it doesn’t cost you any more, we make a little money that way and we are very grateful to you for shopping through our affiliate links!
Have you traveled with children to sites with history that might be difficult to explain? Please share. Let’s talk.