Friday, February 24, 2017
The Lions of Little Rock
Lexile = 630
This historical fiction book is set in 1958, one year AFTER the "desegregation" of schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. Here you learn the rest of the story. Yes, nine African-American high school students attended Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. But it wasn't all happiness and sunshine after that. In fact, the Governor of Arkansas CLOSED all Little Rock High Schools. A few teachers taught classes on TV!
The Lions of Little Rock centers on Marlee, who makes a new friend in middle school that year. (The middle schools were still opened AND segregated.) Then it is discovered her new friend, Liz, is a light-skinned African-American "passing" as white. She leaves the white school, and many of her former friends are horrified that they had become friends with a black person. Marlee does not want to give up this friendship and sneaks around a bit to meet up with Liz. This actually puts Liz and her entire family in danger as the white community threatens harm to both Liz's family AND Marlee for being "race mixers."
Accounts of this era are so troubling to me. It's difficult to believe that people could be so ignorant and cruel. But that is exactly why books like Lions are so important for us to read. It allows us to step inside someone else's shoes for a moment, see the world through their eyes and hopefully avoid the bigotry and hate of former times.
Watch a short book trailer HERE.