She Persisted: Ruby Bridges

She Persisted: Ruby Bridges is a Parents' book club pick for good reason: it inspires children to strive for social justice and equality. Written by Kekla Magoon and Chelsea Clinton and intended for ages 6 to 9, it follows 6-year-old Ruby Bridges, the first Black child at the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960. Refusing to be treated like a second-class student, she walked past hateful protesters that shouted threats against her to attend first grade and was then taught alone for a year. But not once did she miss a day of school—something Clinton likes to point out. Instead of giving up in the face of adversity, she bravely faced it with a positive attitude. She persisted.

Because readers of the book are essentially the same age as Ruby, the book gives kids a greater understanding of their own power and potential in the world. Sometimes kids may feel like they're not important or powerful enough to make a difference because they're only one person or so young. As a child, Magoon thought all the people who made change in the world were grownups. "Everybody always asks you when you're little, 'What do you want to be when you grow up?'" she says. "Nobody ever asks you 'What do you want to be right now?'" She Persisted: Ruby Bridges gives children a new perspective.

The book also teaches that even when you've done something significant you can still continue to contribute. "It's not about one thing we do in our life," says Magoon. "It's about all of the things we do that add up together to be something really powerful." Although Ruby changed the future of education and became a symbol of the civil rights movement at just age 6, she continued to challenge the status quo as she grew up, becoming a lifelong activist for racial equality.

Further, in addition to black-and-white illustrations scattered throughout the book, She Persisted: Ruby Bridges includes a list of simple ways kids can make a difference in their community. For example, Magoon suggests kids spend time with people that don't look like them, do a school project about the civil rights movement and share it with their friends, and/or write a letter to an elected official expressing their support for laws that support equality. "It's an important step in giving kids a little bit of agency to go out and do the things that they're passionate about," she says.

If your child enjoys reading She Persisted: Ruby Bridges, be sure to check out more books in the series too, as they explore the incredible accomplishments of other American women like Clara Lemlich, Harriet Tubman, and Sally Ride throughout history who have triumphed against considerable odds.

You can watch Magoon and Clinton read a chapter from She Persisted: Ruby Bridges and answer questions from Barbara Brandon-Croft, Parents' research director, on Parents IGTV!


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