As a parent with tons of responsibilities, how are you supposed to find the time to protest injustice while still making sure your progeny are well cared for and thriving? Well, the simple answer is that you can’t be out there on the front lines protesting day after day.

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But you can make an impact on the future by raising your children to be aware and prepared to stand up for themselves and others. There are some great books out there that can help you mold your children, at any age, into people who will make a positive change in the world.

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down (appropriate for grades 1-4) is a lovely book which tells very simply the story of the four African-American college students who sat at a “whites-only” Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960 to protest segregation. The book was written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

Without talking down to children, this book provides an easily accessible pathway into understanding this turbulent period of history. Beginning with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., “We must … meet hate with love,” this book tells how these four students sat “with hearts full of hope” in order to obtain the simple goal of being served “a doughnut and coffee, with cream on the side.”

The most wonderful thing about this book, in my opinion, is that it shows how a social movement can grow from a few people to many. Four people sitting at a lunch counter had an effect that was seen across the country. And the goal was simply to be treated as a human being. Something every young child can relate to.

Idealistic in theme, the book also bravely addresses the contretemps the protesters had to deal with: people throwing food and pouring hot coffee on them, yelling at and calling them names. (These pages disturbed my 7-year-old daughter, but only to affect her recognition of how brave these protesters really were.)

Sit-In is a great children’s book that leaves its readers full of hope for the future and a “recipe for integration” that “makes enough for all.”

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