Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 (Newbery Honor Book), The

Christopher Paul Curtis
A wonderful middle-grade novel narrated by Kenny, 9, about his middle-class black family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. When Kenny's 13-year-old brother, Byron, gets to be too much trouble, they head South to Birmingham to visit Grandma, the one person who can shape him up. And they happen to be in Birmingham when Grandma's church is blown up.


Reviewed: 2016-09-08
Overall, an engaging narrator who deals with the themes of family, relationships, educational abilities, and racism. Though the trip to Birmingham doesn't take place till the end of the story, the set up is entertaining and important for the last revelation of the story. A good read for anyone, but reading level aimed towards upper elementary and middle school readers. A relatable narrator that could help engage and orient students that can be paired with the civil rights movement. Though the book's main focus is on family and relationships, which are important themes for developing middle school students, it does hit on one of the bigger inciting incidents. The epilogue also allows for a discussion on the civil rights movement in both language arts and history classes. It can also be paired with the famous "I Have a Dream" speech mentioned in the epilogue. Plus, based on current events in regards to race, this book could help explain the frustration of protesters and activists of the Black Lives Matter movement, which could also be a good discussion for either class to explain how the text relates to contemporary issues.
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