A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Marcus Pfister (The Rainbow Fish).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Henry Ford (1863-1947). Read Driven: A Photobiography of Henry Ford by Don Mitchell.
- Happy birthday to Baltimore, Maryland, founded in 1729. Read Goliath: Hero of the Great Baltimore Fire by Claudia Friddell, illustrated by Troy Howell, and Anna All Year Round by Mary Downing Hahn, illustrated by Diane de Groat.
The summer in New England has been unbearable a few days in July; but I can always drive down to the ocean for a fresh breeze. Not so in my landlocked childhood state of Indiana. For many of my summers, the community pool provided the only escape from long, hazy summer days.
Hence I found myself immediately identifying with the heroine of the book of the day: Gloriana Hemphill of Augusta Scattergoodâ€™s Glory Be. Eleven years old and living in Hanging Rock, Mississippi, in 1964, Glory looks forward to her twelfth birthday party that is always held at the local swimming pool. When the pool closes, seemingly for repairs, Glory faces a summer unlike any other in her life.
Nothing is quite what it seems in Hanging Rock that summer. Yankee Freedom Workers have come into town, and Glory befriends the daughter of one of them. Gloryâ€™s older sister Jesslyn has become involved with a new boy in town, who has been actively engaged in Civil Rights protests. And Gloryâ€™s best friend Frankie, son of a bigoted member of the town council, holds beliefs quite different from Glory. In reality the pool has been closed not because of repairsâ€”but to keep it from being integrated. In this small community where people have to decide where they stand on the issues, a courageous town librarian sides with the angels.
Deftly and with great passion, Augusta Scattergood, in her amazing first novel, explores the conflicts of the sixties and the Civil Rights movement. She does so in a way that connects with todayâ€™s fourth and fifth grade students. Because Glory is so believable as a character and because her voice is so fresh and funny, readers get swept up in her story and learn a great deal about Civil Rights in the process. The book works very well paired with Kristin Levineâ€™s The Lions of Little Rock and Rita Williams-Garciaâ€™s One Crazy Summer. All three explore the issues of this time period in character-driven novels. Glory Be has been working particularly well in fifth grade classrooms or in book discussion groups. But it can be enjoyed independently as well.
So if you go swimming this summer in the local pool, donâ€™t take for granted that the pool is open to all. As Glory Be reminds us and teaches our children, our inclusive society today exists because of the courage of those willing to fight for the rights of all individuals.
Hereâ€™s a passage from Glory Be:
â€śYou girls better enjoy this while you can.â€ť J.T. nodded toward the pool. He was grinning bigger than a cat trapping a mouse. â€śBy next week, itâ€™ll be closed.â€ť
Jesslyn propped herself up on her elbows to look out at the turquoise water. â€śClosed? In the middle of the summer? You donâ€™t know what youâ€™re talking about, J.T.â€ť
â€śI know exactly what Iâ€™m talking aboutâ€ť was all he said.
When I heard that, I couldnâ€™t stop myself. I stormed over to Jesslyn. â€śNobody will close our pool. Itâ€™s almost July Fourth, the big parade and all.â€ť I started to say how it was my birthday and Iâ€™d has swimming parties here since I was little. But I didnâ€™t. I glared at Frankieâ€™s brother. â€śWhy are you lying about our pool?â€ť
J.T. spit out his toothpick and slicked back his black hair. â€śI ainâ€™t lying. You can blame it on them Freedom Workers. Those people from up North, in town to help the coloreds vote and swim in our pool. We donâ€™t need outside agitators down here making up new rules.â€ť
Originally posted July 30, 2012. Updated for .