Birmingham, 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford


Birmingham, 1963
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.


This is Just to Say

This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness
by Joyce Sidman, Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski


Sidman, Joyce. 2007. This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness. Ill. by Pamela Zagarenski. NewYork: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 9870618616800


It’s not easy to apologize, but what if you had time to create the perfect apology? A classroom filled with remorse guides this fresh, clever collection of poetry. Not only does the reader get to read youthful, heartfelt confessions, but the reader is treated to poems written by the “recipient” of the apologies. The apologies and responses evoke a sense of youthfulness while capturing the shameless honesty of 11 year-old, while balancing the wit and grace possessed by many teachers like Mrs. Merz. This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness is filled with voice, and captures the energy of Mrs. Merz’s 6th grade class brilliantly.


The poems in This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness truly captures the spirit of the speaker(s) of each poem, so much that readers will almost feel as if they have spent the day with her class. Through the poems, readers can feel the troubles and woes that are often experienced by 6th graders. The use of responses adds to the feeling of resolution for each child and the situation in which they find themselves.

The simple illustrations that accompany the poem add to overall innocence portrayed by the speaker of the poems. By varying the use of different media, such as collage, and computer graphics, the simple illustrations capture innocence on the verge of adolescence. The clever use of pieces of notebook and graph paper for sketches add to the setting. The illustrations work to add character and emphasize the speakers’ voice of each poem.


2008 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book

“Whimsical, wise, and all worth reading. . . . . “ – School Library Journal

“Each school library could benefit from adding this wonderful book of poems to its collection.” – School Library Media Connection


Grades 6-8:

This book would serve as an excellent use of poems as mentor texts. Pairing William Carlos Williams’ “This Is Just to Say” poem with Thomas’ poem would give students a good example of creating a poem of their own using the structure of the mentor poem.

Students could also write responses to a poem of their choice.

This collection highlights various types of poems, and would be a great teaching tool to show examples of each type of poem.

This collection of poetry would serve as an excellent choice for reader’s theater, possibly in connection with a school’s drama department or club.

“Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.” The Horn Book Magazine May-June 2008: 364. Literature Resource Center. Web. 10 Oct. 2012.

Nightingale, Susie. “This Is Just To Say: Poems Of Apology And Forgiveness.” Library Media Connection 26.3 (2007): 88-89. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 10 Oct. 2012.

“This Is Just To Say: Poems Of Apology And Forgiveness.” School Library Journal 53.(2007): 57. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 10 Oct. 2012.