Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961 Book Review

As a parent, I am always on the lookout for different educational resources to supplement our girls' regular school course content.  Earlier this year, I was asked to read and review Twelve Days in May:  Freedom Ride 1961 Larry Dane Brimner.   What did my family think of this book?

About the Book

On May 4, 1961, a group of thirteen black and white civil rights activists launched the Freedom Ride, aiming to challenge the practice of segregation on buses and at bus terminal facilities in the South. The Ride would last twelve days. Despite the fact that segregation on buses crossing state lines was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1946, and segregation in interstate transportation facilities was ruled unconstitutional in 1960, these rulings were routinely ignored in the South. The thirteen Freedom Riders intended to test the laws and draw attention to the lack of enforcement with their peaceful protest. As the Riders traveled deeper into the South, they encountered increasing violence and opposition. Noted civil rights author Larry Dane Brimner relies on archival documents and rarely seen images to tell the riveting story of the little-known first days of the Freedom Ride. With author’s note, source notes, bibliography, and index.

 My Review

12 Days in May:  Freedom Ride 1961 Educates Readers.  The events illustrated in this book happened many years before I was born--and long, long before my children's births.  While the Freedom Ride was covered in my history classes--and in lessons for my children--the full extent of the events and details were covered so briefly that names and, what I would certainly consider, significant events were never mentioned nor learned.  Brimner presents 12 Days in May in such a well researched, easy to read manner that those of us who missed the racial tensions of the time may have a greater understanding of the events.

Photographs add Great Depth to the Details in 12 Days in May:  Freedom Ride 1961.  A written page or two in a history text does little to teach children--especially our very visual, technology addicted tweens and teens of today.  Brimner shares a wealth of photographs from the events he documented--and puts real faces and emotions into the educational text.

Would I recommend 12 Days in May:  Freedom Ride 1961 by Larry Dane Brimner?  This book brings a period of the past to life with photos and accounts of experiences that most of us did not see first hand.  So much of our history is locked in the pages of textbook--or only in memories or family stories.  Brimner brings the Freedom Riders to life and tells a visual account that educates readers far more than the written word.  I would certainly recommend this book for use in both the classroom or library as well as for families to present the information to children and teens.  The book is geared toward older readers--but, could be read and discussed as a family.

Buy the Book

Learn about the Author

Larry Dane Brimner is the author of 200 books for young readers. His books have received many awards, including the Carter G. Woodson Award, the Robert F. Sibert Honor Book Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award Honor, the NCTE Orbis Pictus Book Award Honor, and the Eureka! Gold and Silver state awards in California, among other accolades. He also had a one-year stint writing children's programming for PBS. Born in Florida, he taught at the high school and university levels in California for twenty years and now makes his home in both San Diego, California, and Tucson, Arizona. In addition to high school and university, he taught at the primary, elementary, and junior high school levels. When he is not writing, he enjoys mountain biking, cooking, working with mosaic tile, wogging (a combination of walking and jogging), and playing hide-and-seek with his schnauzer, Kubric. 

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