Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday-The First Step by Susan E. Goodman

My Friend Alyson Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts weekly link up to share Nonfiction Picture Books. Please visit her amazing website.

by Susan E. Goodman
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Published January 2016
Bloomsbury Children's
40 Pages
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
In 1847, a young African American girl named Sarah Roberts was attending a school in Boston. Then one day she was told she could never come back. She didn't belong. The Otis School was for white children only.
Sarah deserved an equal education, and the Roberts family fought for change. They made history. Roberts v. City of Boston was the first case challenging our legal system to outlaw segregated schools. It was the first time an African American lawyer argued in a supreme court.
These first steps set in motion changes that ultimately led to equality under the law in the United States. Sarah's cause was won when people--black and white--stood together and said, No more. Now, right now, it is time for change!
With gorgeous art from award-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis,The First Step is an inspiring look at the first lawsuit to demand desegregation--long before the American Civil Rights movement, even before the Civil War.
Backmatter includes: integration timeline, bios on key people in the book, list of resources, and author's note. 

My Thoughts
This is a beautiful, inspirational story of the struggle of one father's determination to get his daughter the education she deserved. I felt for Sarah and her family. I can imagine that this story will be met with outrage by the students that read it. How lucky they are to grow up in a time where diversity is the norm in schools. This story needs to be told so that children can learn about the struggle of segregation and the unfaltering determination of so many that created change. 
The narrative is accompanied by soft, muted watercolor and gouache illustrations. The integration timeline in the back shows the timeline of segregation in our country and the author's note provides even more information. 
I will certainly share The First Steps with my fourth graders. I would recommend this book for grades 3-5. 

Possible Companion Texts

Read what others have to say about this book.


  1. I enjoyed this book, too! I thought it was interesting that this is a case I had not heard about/learned about. I agree, pairing it with Separate But Equal would be good!

  2. I like that you shared others for companion texts, too, Gigi. I enjoyed this story, and I too had never heard of it. Terrific that it's one to share with students.

  3. I really appreciate your companion texts, it can be very helpful to have additional books to use in a unit or to share with fascinated readers who want to learn more. Definitely an inspiring story about true courage.

  4. Thank you for your thoughtful discussion about this title. I will have to seek it out.