by Carole Boston Weatherford
Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2007. Birmingham, 1963. Design by Helen Robinson. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong. ISBN 9781590784402
Birmingham, 1963 depicts the events in the days leading up to the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963. Told through the voice of an anonymous 10 year-old, readers are taken back to the Civil Rights Movement. The poems reflect on the year that was 1963, and what it meant to a nine year-old as she looked forward to turning 10. Painfully, the narrator recounts that fateful day in September that coincided with her tenth birthday. From Civil Rights demonstrations to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Birmingham, 1963 creates personal connections to those who fought to bring about change.
Birmingham, 1963 is an emotional book containing free-verse poetry and images that have a strong impact. Weatherford creates a feeling of shattered innocence as the child recounts 1963 as the year she turned ten, and the fearful, turbulent times in which she lived. Weatherford adds “In Memoriam” pages for each of the four girls that died in the church on September 15, 1963. These pages create a sense of who these girls were, and not just names and pictures of we might remember from history.
The pictures and images used in Birmingham, 1963 take readers back in time and create a setting. With the feeling of an old scrapbook, these images and poems evoke a sense of life in the 60’s during this dramatic era.
“The quiet yet arresting book design will inspire readers. . . “ – Booklist
“Exquisitely understated design lends visual potency to a searing poetic evocation of the Birmingham church bombing of 1963.” – Kirkus
“A stunning free-verse poem relates the events leading up to September 15, 1963. . . . “ – Booklinks
Birmingham, 1963, would complement The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 beautifully. Reading this story after the chapter on the bombing at the church in the novel, would add depth to the novel study.
This poetry would add to the learning experience of students when discussing the Civil Rights Movement. Adding this book to the unit, would help to create a personal connection for students as they learn about the days and events of the movement.
Rochman, Hazel. “Birmingham, 1963.” Booklist 15 Sept. 2007: 64. Literature Resource Center. Web. 8 Oct. 2012.
Tillotson, Laura. “Birmingham, 1963.” Book Links 17.3 (2008): 21. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 8 Oct. 2012.
“Weatherford, Carole Boston: BIRMINGHAM, 1963.” Kirkus Reviews 15 Aug. 2007. Literature Resource Center. Web. 8 Oct. 2012.