Monday, June 2, 2008

Remember, by Toni Morrison

Morrison, Toni (2004). Remember: the Journey to School Integration. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 78 pages.

Using high quality archival photographs, Morrison tells the story of school integration from a child's perspective. She begins with a brief yet informative explanation of the book followed by the series of photographs with a fictionalized commentary. Following the approximately 70 pages of photographs is a timeline of important events and descriptions of each photograph.

The photos make this book a success. Morrison used photo archives to find the photographs. Photos of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and pivotal days of integration are familiar to adults and may be recognizable to children. Other photos of children at school or trying to go to integrated schools are less famous. They were all high quality and representative of what children may have experienced. Each photo is clear, thought provoking, but not disturbing for children.

Honestly, I'm a little disappointed with how the information was handled. Rather than telling the story of the actual photograph, Morrison creates short fictionalized commentary for many of the photos. The real story of the photo is at the back of the book in an index. This made for a lot of flipping back and forth and was frustrating. This format would be tedious for a child using it independently. In a group setting the fictionalized commentary would probably work better because it is short and would hold students' interest. The whole purpose of this book is to document this difficult time and telling the real stories of the photos would have had more impact in my opinion.

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