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review 2018-02-24 23:06
Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles
Freedom Summer - Deborah Wiles,Jerome Lagarrigue

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles is a beautiful story of friendship between John Henry (a young black boy) and Joe (a young white boy) in the 1960s. The two boys spend their entire summer together, going on adventures and making unforgettable memories. As the boys spend time together, Joe begins to notice all of the things John Henry can't do and all of the places he is not allowed into simply because of this skin color. But despite this, the boys become close friends and embrace each other's differences. This book has a great variety of vocabulary that readers can learn from and excellent illustrations that paint an accurate picture of the South during the 1960s. 


I would use this book during a Social Studies lesson and ask students to compare and contrast John Henry's and Joe's lives before and after the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. Using historical facts learned in previous lessons and the book, I would ask them to compare/contrast what they could and could not do and what their daily life would look like. What changed? What stayed the same? They would write their response in a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation that they could share in class. 

Lexile Measure: AD460L

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text 2016-03-14 16:25
Freedom Summer
Freedom Summer - Deborah Wiles,Jerome Lagarrigue

Note: John Henry swims better than anyone I know.He crawls like a catfish,blows bubbles like a swamp monster,but he doesn’t swim in the town pool with me.He’s not allowed.This stirring account of the "Freedom Summer" that followed the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 powerfully and poignantly captures two boys' experience with racism and their friendship that defies it. A picture book for all ages.

Source: Wiles, D., & Wiles, D. (2005). Freedom summer. United States: Turtleback Books.
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text 2014-11-07 19:45
Remarkable Book about the '60's
Revolution (The Sixties Trilogy) - Deborah Wiles

This is one of the most remarkable books I've read this past year. It is actually two books in one. Interspersed within the storyline are primary source documents...songs, speeches, letters, news accounts, interviews, etc. The two parallel narratives are about the years 1964-65 in Greenwood, Mississippi, known as Freedom Summer. It's not a pretty story, reminding us of the racism, violence, hatred and fear of those days. It's about the work of COFO, and SNCC particularly, along with NAACP in the state of Mississippi. The historical documents take us back to the three young men killed on the first official day of Freedom Summer, the peaceful protests punctuated with arrests, beatings, and economic reprisals of that time and place. It's about the South's refusal to honor laws such as Brown vs. Board of Education. It's about the repression of voting rights, a concern that's back in the news today. The fictional story follows two white youngsters, stepsiblings, trying to make sense of the times. Their story is intertwined with that of a "colored" boy also trying to navigate the trying times.


At this time in our country when racism, voter repression, fear tactics, and other issues seem back in vogue for far too many people in too many places, this book is a reminder to the rest of us that we need to be brave and speak out. And that is something I am going to do, even at the risk of offending some "friends." 


It is billed for teen readers, but I can attest to its impact upon an adult who lived through the '60s. I enjoyed a double dose because I had the good fortune to have access to both the print copy and the audiobook. I strongly recommend the audio, and if you can get your hands on it at a library, get the print and audio both. Also, I believe this book should be held in both formats in any library that serves teen readers. If I could give it an award I would. 


PS I have not read the first book in Wiles' 60's Trilogy, this being the second. I will snag it ASAP. If you remember the '60s you might want to do the same.

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review 2013-04-25 00:00
Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy
Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy - Bruce Watson Most of what I have read about the Summer of 1964 has focused on the murder of the three civil rights workers. What I have never really read was what this book delivers-a comprehensive overview of Mississippi, summer of 1964, and the volunteers that flooded the state.

So many new to me facts were present. For instance, the volunteers were trained in Ohio before being sent to Mississippi. Which makes a ton of sense as those entering Mississippi was entering a hostile land. The fact that these volunteers were not only trying to register to vote blacks but also trying to force the race issue at the National Democratic Convention. Volunteers also held schools that summer, teaching kids their history and teach adults literacy and citizenship.

The story doesn't just end as the volunteers headed home. We travel to Atlantic City and see the fight for recognition, the politicians weighing the right thing to do vs political careers, and the result. We also see where some of the volunteers ended up and how Mississippi affected them, in some cases, so deeply the effects shaped their lives.

I loved this book and the overview of the Summer of 1964 in Mississippi.
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review 2011-11-03 00:00
Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy - Bruce Watson Summer of 1964, I was sitting in my diapers, sniffing the Topanga Canyon breezes and watching the snakes and tarantulas go by, so I think I can be forgiven for not knowing what was going on in Mississippi. If you've seen the 1988 film Mississippi Burning, you know about the three young men, two white and one black, who disappeared on the first night of Freedom Summer. This book tells the rest of the story. Hundreds of brave and idealistic college-age kids left their safe white enclaves all over the country to converge on Mississippi. They hoped to register black voters, many of whom were not even aware they had the right to vote. They also taught in Freedom Schools, where black children could come and get a taste of what it was like to get excited about learning and be treated with the dignity they weren't allowed in the public schools. These volunteers risked everything, including their lives. Mississippi wasn't just another state back then, it was another country! There was no real law there, and it was a violent and dangerous place. Four volunteers lost their lives, and many others were beaten, bombed, threatened, jailed, and humiliated. It took a long time for the seeds they sowed to bear fruit, but when we elected a bi-racial president 44 years later, many of them felt like they'd had a part in making that possible.
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