My Facebook feed is rife with back-to-school photos. Which makes this the perfect time to reflect on an era when enormous changes rolled across our educational system. During the late 1960's, racial integration of the public schools was finally being enforced.
In 1967 when Fall Creek Elementary in East Bend, NC became integrated, Shannon Hitchcock started first grade.
Her school’s first African-American teacher taught her to read. Later, as an adult, Shannon learned Mrs. Porter was in poor health so she asked to visit. She wanted her teacher to know what an impact she'd made on her life. Mrs. Porter reminded her that white children had been uneasy about having a black teacher. To ease her students' concerns, she'd invited each of them to touch her face and hair.
Shannon knew immediately that she wanted to write that story. The result is RUBY LEE & ME, inspired by her teacher, Mrs. Pauline Porter.
RUBY LEE & ME is an authentic story of a 12 year-old white girl's struggles with guilt, loyalty, and circumstances that are beyond her control. Besides feeling responsible for her younger sister's accident, Sarah faces immense societal changes as her local school is forced to become racially integrated. She has a marvelous friendship with a black neighbor, Ruby Lee but school integration, which looms on the horizon, raises honest questions about how they will interact when their other friends are around.
The uncertainty leads to misunderstandings, feelings of betrayal, and hurtful words.RUBY LEE & ME is tender, informative, impeccably written, and unflinchingly honest.
RUBY LEE & ME is a terrific addition to classroom reading lists and the learning experience will be enhanced with these Discussion Questions.
Teachers and school librarians, you can enter the #MGGetsReal Giveaway that includes RUBY LEE & ME along with four other middle grade books covering tough topics. You'll find the contest widget at the bottom of the #MGGetsReal page. And do spread the word!