Title: Freedom Summer
Author: Deborah Wiles
Illustrator: Jerome Lagarrigue
Publisher: Antheneum Books for Children
Topic: African Americans, Race relations, Friendship, Prejudice and Racism
Opening: John Henry Waddell is my best friend.
Summary: In 1964, Joe is pleased that a new law will allow his best friend John Henry, who is colored, to share the town pool and other public places with him, but he is dismayed to find that prejudice still exists.
Discussion questions at Teach Peace Now website.
4th grade lesson plan with activities for the classroom:
Lesson plan template with activities for the classroom:
Why I Like the Book:
This is a touching and simply written story that tackles the very complex issue of racism and prejudice in the south and the 1964 civil movement that would change the south, Freedom Summer. The story is written in first person and told by Joe, a young white boy who is friends with John Henry, an African-American boy. Freedom Summer follows two best friends in a time and place where segregation and racial inequality ruled. When a law is finally passed that ensures the two boys could finally visit public places together, they realize, it takes more than just a new law to change old ways of thinking.