2014-04-21

By Anja Filan, corps member serving on the Bank of America team

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Are you looking to find an engaging informational read for your students? Phillip Hoose’s, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, is an inspiring non-fiction book that tells the story of a little known heroine who fought injustice in the Jim Crow South.

I currently serve 4th, 6th, and 8th grade students at Young Achievers Math and Pilot School in Mattapan, and understand the challenges in finding engaging informational texts for students. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice provides students a story they likely have not heard, offers multiple strands of narration to create an engaging story, and will likely spark great class discussion.

The novel begins with a powerful personal account of Colvin's earliest experience with racism. Unwilling to stand for social injustice, Colvin fought the segregation laws the ruled the Montgomery bus system. According to Hoose, on March 2, 1955, she sparked “the most important social movement in U.S. history” and refused to give up her seat to a white woman. Colvin was the first person arrested for resisting bus segregation in Alabama.

Perhaps what is most interesting is Hoose’s explanation of why Rosa Parks, and not Colvin, was celebrated as the heroine of the Alabama bus boycott. Hoose presents the first in-depth account of Colvin’s widely unknown story, and shows how her stand for justice set the foundation for Parks’ later act.  

Hoose’s story offers multiple narrative threads as it intertwines Colvin’s personal account with a general civil right history for context and enrichment, incorporates informational blurbs, and pictures. Visually, the text is wonderful and brought to life with family pictures, newspaper clippings, and maps. Hoose’s unique narrative style is engaging, informative, and shows students multiple perspectives to Colvin's story.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice is sure to spark great conversations about social justice, racism and promoting awareness and activism. Colvin exemplifies the determination needed to make a difference and shows students that anyone can be instrumental in making a change.

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