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by Duncan Tonatiuh
Published 2014 by Harry N. Abrahms
Nonfiction Picture Book
Review copy obtained from public library
Almost 10 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, Sylvia Mendez and her parents helped end school segregation in California. An American citizen of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage who spoke and wrote perfect English, Mendez was denied enrollment to a “Whites only” school. Her parents took action by organizing the Hispanic community and filing a lawsuit in federal district court. Their success eventually brought an end to the era of segregated education in California.
This story of the Mendez family's fight to allow their children (and all children) to attend their neighborhood school is an important story to share. It shows how real change happens when people work together for what is right. Duncan Tonatiuh does a wonderful job of telling the story so that children will understand what was happening during the time period. With a good amount of text on each page, I feel that this book is a great one to share with older students. I recommend it for grades 2-5.
Use this book:
As part of a unit on civil rights.
As a way to discuss fairness and equality.
As a mentor text to discuss character traits.
The author discusses the book in this video.
Here is a nice book trailer
Here is a 4 minute video about Sylvia's story.