MY SELMA: TRUE STORIES OF A SOUTHERN CHILDHOOD AT THE HEIGHT OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, by Willie Mae Brown, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), Jan. 3, 2023, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 10-14)
Author Willie Mae Brown shares her remembrances in My Selma: True Stories of A Southern Childhood at the Height of the Civil Rights Movement.
As the civil rights movement and the fight for voter rights unfold in Selma, Alabama, many things happen inside and outside the Brown family’s home that do not have anything to do with the landmark 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Yet the famous outrages which unfold on that span form an inescapable backdrop in this collection of stories. In one, Willie Mae takes it upon herself to offer summer babysitting services to a glamorous single white mother ― a secret she keeps from her parents that unravels with shocking results. In another, Willie Mae reluctantly joins her mother at a church rally, and is forever changed after hearing Martin Luther King Jr. deliver a defiant speech in spite of a court injunction. —Synopsis provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
My Selma tells the story of a 12-year-old growing up during the civil rights movement. Willie Mae comes across as a bright, inquisitive kid, and it’s interesting to see how events unfolded through her eyes.
Unfortunately, because of formatting, some readers won’t even pick it up, and others may find themselves struggling throughout.
My Selma is told through a sort of stream of consciousness writing style that gives a disorganized feel to the book. The events are not presented in a linear fashion, and there are a lot of characters. Reading it as an adult, I can appreciate how memories come in this scattered way, by younger readers may find themselves lost or discouraged. The vernacular of Brown’s Southern upbringing may also be a challenge, but should be easier to overcome.
For these reasons, I recommend My Selma as a classroom book that is read together and with lots of discussion.
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