Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Birmingham Reading Program to Share City's Civil Rights Movement History in the Classroom and Community

The Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham City Schools, and the City of Birmingham are partnering in a fall reading program that's exposing Birmingham fourth graders to the civil rights movement. The school system is working with the city and library to engage students in the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement and to promote literacy in the classroom and community. In August, the school system saw to it that every fourth grade student received a copy of The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963. Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell, Sr., Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon, and BPL Director Renee Blalock distributed books to fourth grade students at Martha Gaskins Elementary School in late August to help kick off the program. The school was one of 28 Birmingham elementary and K-8 schools to receive the book, which looks at a family’s life in Flint, Michigan and their road trip to Birmingham in 1963. During the week of September 3, the library’s 18 locations provided free copies of the book to patrons as part of the Read It Forward program.

ID numbers are at the back the free books provided at library locations. People can log the number onto the special Read It Forward page on www.bplonline.org and check back to follow the book's travels.Once students have finished reading the books, they will share what they’ve learned and their books with other students. The concept is borrowed from the library’s Read It Forward program, where a person reads a book and instead of keeping it, they pass it on to someone else.

Teachers have planned various educational exercises around the book; volunteers will read a portion of the book to students and generate discussion about the book on Wednesday, September 11 as part of Empowerment Week’s Day of Service; and several teachers, parents, students, and library employees will see the film version of the book when it premieres at the Alabama Theatre on Thursday, September 12. On Sunday, September 15, fourth graders will participate in a children’s march at Railroad Park to mark an important moment in Birmingham’s history.

For a complete list of BPL and City of Birmingham events and activities recognizing The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 and the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement, visit BPL's Press Page at http://www.bplonline.org/about/press/Default.aspx?id=541.

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