4 out of 4 stars
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A Stone of Hope by Janet S. Kleinman is a children's book about the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. It follows Lisa, a character who is showing her grandmother around Washington D.C. for the first time.
As the pair explores the National Mall together, Lisa is at first serving as a guide for her grandmother. While Lisa knows her way around and is able to take her grandmother to different monuments, she soon realizes that her grandmother has her own expertise to share. Lisa's grandmother is able to provide another layer to the monuments, as she can recall King's crusade for equality firsthand. As they read the panels that hold many of King's most famous quotes, the grandmother expands on each musing by providing the context behind them. She addresses her granddaughter's questions about segregation and recalls hearing the news of his assassination. In this way, she helps Lisa develop her own thoughts about equal rights.
Throughout the book, there are additional facts written under the heading, "Did You Know?" These facts address details about the memorial itself, King's accomplishments, and the civil rights movement itself. This addition to the story makes it especially suitable for children studying the time period as it includes dates and information about important events in history.
The best part of this book is the photographs. I hesitate to characterize this book as a picture book since that makes me think of hand-drawn illustrations. A Stone of Hope is filled with photographs. Some are of the National Mall, some are of King himself, and others are of the other leaders in civil rights. The photo credits are listed in the back, with many photographs coming from the National Park Service or the National Archives. This is great for readers to see what the actual monuments look like, or to appreciate the thousands of listeners who attended King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech.
This book is a great read for children. Younger children will enjoy seeing the photographs, while older children can appreciate the context as they read King's ideas and thoughts on equality. I think this would be a wonderful supplement to a child who is just starting to study civil rights in an early social studies class.
I am awarding A Stone of Hope 4 out of 4 stars. The photos and the narrative aspect of Lisa and her grandmother make the history more accessible to younger children. Meanwhile, the dates and facts are provided in small, bite-size pieces which make it a nice reference to a younger middle-school child. Overall, I find this to be a great resource for children to learn about equality, both its history and its future. The last line affords a great topic of conversation for an American of any age, as Lisa and her grandmother conclude, "We still have a dream...do you?"
A Stone of Hope
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