Last year, our school had the opportunity for all elementary students to Zoom with Ruby Bridges, the civil rights icon who was the first Black student to integrate an all-white school in New Orleans. My students, who were second graders at the time of our Zoom call, are still talking about it. They frequently bring up Ruby’s actions for justice in the context of our learning. During Black History Month, they recall Ruby’s story and notice the ways so many Black Americans have had to take actions towards change in our nation’s history.
In our conversations about Ruby’s story, we continue to turn to her writing. My students loved hearing Ruby’s story in her own words on our Zoom call. Luckily, all kids have the opportunity to hear Ruby’s story in her own words through her written works.
I was 6 years old when Ruby Bridges released her picture book Through My Eyes in 1999 – the same age that Ruby was when she integrated William Frantz Elementary School in 1960. I remember picking up a copy of the book at school and poring over the pictures for hours. I read the book in the upper elementary grades with my teachers and was struck by Ruby’s experiences.
Today, we have multiple copies of Through My Eyes in my third grade classroom library. They are frequently read and revisited. When Ruby visited with us on Zoom, we added her latest book to our shelves: This Is Your Time.
This Is Your Time is a letter to the young people of America. A call to action, it tells readers about how Ruby took steps towards justice during her time as a child, and how kids today can take steps towards justice, too. Ruby’s words are accompanied by photos – not just of her story, but of the stories of young people around the world who are demanding change.
This Is Your Time makes a great addition to classroom libraries at the upper elementary, middle, and high school level. During Black History Month and year-round, Ruby’s story reminds young people of how far we have come and how far we have left to go. Reading This Is Your Time reminds students that the time is now for them to use their voices to speak up for what they believe in.