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Saving American Beach

March Madness is upon us in more ways than one! As a fan of Xavier Men’s Basketball not only am I watching the NCAA finals but I am also watching the NIT Tournament.  Not where the Musketeers wanted to be, but they are still playing! In school, we have our annual March Madness book tournament taking place. This year’s theme is nonfiction.  We have a variety of topics including math, science, history and conservation. Frequent readers of this blog understand my love of the beach so, Saving American Beach: The Biography of African American Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch written by Heidi Tyline King and illustrated by Ekua Holmes, is one of my favorite selections for this year!  This is a story of history, family, music, the beach, conservation, and most importantly determination.  Notes from the author and the illustrator were impactful and vital to the story. Readers of all ages will enjoy this book.  

What fourth graders had to say:

  • Why would anyone put a rope in the ocean dividing it into sections for people based on skin color?  That doesn’t make sense and is sad.
  • MaVynee Betsch felt very strongly about American Beach because she spent her whole life saving it.
  • I liked that she traveled home to take care of her mother when she was sick even though she was a great opera singer.
  • MaVynee Betsch really loved the beach and she made it an important place for everyone.
  • The illustrations were beautiful!

As students who live relatively close to the Atlantic Ocean and spend their summers in Maine, New Hampshire and Cape Cod, this story hit home for them.  They see the beach as a beautiful place for EVERYONE; a place to have fun, enjoy the ocean and as a place to care for and preserve for years to come.  MaVynee Betsch’s story is one they won’t forget quickly and will have them talking about what they can do for the ocean and each other for a long time.

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