The Story of Ruby Bridges is based on the true story of a brave young lady who, in 1960, became the first African-American child to attend a school that had previously been attended by all white children. At the age of six years Ruby took on a challenge that most adults would have never dared to assume.
Ruby’s family was from Mississippi and her father worked in the fields until machines began doing the jobs of the men. When he lost his job he moved Ruby, her mother, and siblings to New Orleans, Louisiana where he began working as a janitor and her mother cleaned the floors of a bank. Regardless of where they lived or where they worked, Ruby’s parents always made faith a priority and every Sunday the family worshipped together in church.
In 1960, the schools of New Orleans were still not integrated and a judge ordered that four African-American girls begin attending white elementary schools. Three of the girls went to one school, but Ruby was sent to the William Frantz Elementary School all by herself.
Ruby’s parents were proud of their child’s important commission and they prayed that God would strengthen them all for the days ahead. On Ruby’s first day at her new school the President ordered that federal marshals accompany her into the school-house amid the jeers and angry picketers on the sidewalk.
The parents of the white students refused to send their children if Ruby was to be there. Ruby faithfully attended every day and she and her teacher, Miss Hurley studied together diligently. Miss Hurley was amazed at Ruby’s ability to walk through the angry mobs on a daily basis and still calmly and happily learn new lessons. There’s more to the story, but I’ll let you discover that on your own when you read the book and share it with your children.
Robert Coles, a child psychiatrist and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, detailed this account of Ruby’s story. The illustrator, George Ford, has won both the Coretta Scott King Award and the Jane Addam’s Children’s Book Award for his visual portrayals of various works of children’s literature.
Give this one a read and please share any creative lesson activities that would accompany it.
The Story of Ruby Bridges
Robert Coles, author
George Ford, illustrator