Read Birmingham, 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford Online


A poetic tribute to the victims of the racially motivated church bombing that served as a seminal event in the struggle for civil rights. In 1963, the eyes of the world were on Birmingham, Alabama, a flashpoint for the civil rights movement. Birmingham was one of the most segregated cities in the United States. Civil rights demonstrators were met with police dogs and waterA poetic tribute to the victims of the racially motivated church bombing that served as a seminal event in the struggle for civil rights. In 1963, the eyes of the world were on Birmingham, Alabama, a flashpoint for the civil rights movement. Birmingham was one of the most segregated cities in the United States. Civil rights demonstrators were met with police dogs and water cannons. On Sunday, September 15, 1963, members of the Ku Klux Klan planted sticks of dynamite at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which served as a meeting place for civil rights organizers. The explosion killed four little girls. Their murders shocked the nation and turned the tide in the struggle for equality. A Jane Addams Children's Honor Book, here is a book that captures the heartbreak of that day, as seen through the eyes of a fictional witness. Archival photographs with poignant text written in free verse offer a powerful tribute to the young victims....

Title : Birmingham, 1963
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781590784402
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 40 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Birmingham, 1963 Reviews

  • Esther
    2019-01-30 15:59

    Published in 2007 by Wordsong.Interest Level: 6th-10th GradeThis is a book of poetry is from the perspective of young girl in Birmingham who eventually faces a gruesome death due to her race. This book chronicles part of the Civil Rights Movement through poetry and vivid pictures that portray various aspects of the struggle for equal rights. The young girl's voice is heard throughout the photographs as narrations of each event. Eventually, the girl faces her death and her name is revealed to be a compilation of the voices of several girls that perished in the same way and place. The pace and tone of this book are quick and somewhat fearful. Each poem increases the intensity of the events and creates a stir of emotion in the reader. The point of view explored also creates a sense of innocence and faith that push the reader to want to find out if the main character succeeds in her struggle for equal rights.Although this is a short book, I think that the verse and photographs meld gracefully and allow the reader to move along with the events that seem to happen so quickly. At the end, the author pays homage to the girls that perished and there is an author's note about the various events presented and the photographs in the book. Each page is stylized with red streaks juxtaposed against the black and white photos and pages, which gives the impression of conflict between white and black as well as of the impending devastating events.

  • Katie Carson
    2019-01-24 15:58

    Very powerful book written in a contemporary poetry style. The poem tells the true story of four African American girls who were killed when the Ku Klux Klan placed sticks of dynamite in their church. Told from a fictional narrator, this book offers insight into the innocence of these young girls and the implications this tragedy had on other African American girls at the time.Gripping black and white photos highlighted with red captivate the reader's attention. The image of a stained-glass window of Jesus with his face blown out from the explosion provides a harsh reality to readers as well.

  • Hayley Larson
    2019-02-20 13:11

    Told in poetry format this was a story that told about a true bombing which took place in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 which killed young girls. There was a very informative back section that explained some about the civil rights movement and how children were used in the fight against racism when adults didn't want to lose their jobs. The poem itself, the book explained, was not entirely true, but the historical events in it were. I felt real emotion when I read this book and found myself with tears in my eyes when it showcased short biographies of the young girls that died, accompanied by photos of them. It was a very good book, probably for fifth or middle graders and above.

  • Tressa
    2019-01-28 15:03

    Carole Boston Weatherford’s Birmingham, 1963 tells the story of the darkest day in Birmingham’s history: the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Because the church was centrally located and had a large basement perfect for meetings, it became a rallying place for the movement and many protests were staged there. This act of terror would become known as the “blast heard around the world,” and was one of several bombings that earned Birmingham the nickname “Bombingham.”Birmingham, 1963 is told through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl, who along with her family is not just an observer but a participant in the Civil Rights Movement. She is witness to Martin Luther King’s stirring speech at the March on Washington, sits in protest at whites-only lunch counters, and is arrested along with hundreds of other young participants in the Children’s Crusade."The year I turned tenI missed school to march with other childrenFor a seat at whites-only lunch counters.Like a junior choir, we chanted 'We Shall Overcome.'Then, police loosed snarling dogs and fire hoses on us,And buses carted us, nine hundred strong, to jail."Details of the girl's daily life reveal a subtle transition from child to young adult, and we can't help but think of four other girls who will never get to sing another solo, dance with their fathers, or grow into women."The day I turned tenI rehearsed my Youth Day solo in the full-length mirror.This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.But Mama allowed my my first sip of coffeeAnd Daddy twirled me around the kitchenIn my patent-leather cha-cha heels."And then the family of four pile into the car and listen to gospel radio as they drive to church. At 10:22 a.m. the destruction of the heart of the movement in Birmingham is complete, except for one lone stained glass window depicting Christ with his face blown out:"The day I turned tenSomeone tucked a bundle of dynamiteUnder the church steps, then lit the fuse of hate."10:22 a.m. The clock stopped, and Jesus’ faceWas blown out of the only stained-glass windowLeft standing—the one where He stands at the door.The Lord is my shepherd, said the pastor on a megaphone.The only fatalities that day were four young girls—Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Denise McNair, and Carole Robertson—although twenty-one others were injured. Martin Luther King gave the eulogy at a joint funeral for three of the girls, and 8,000 people came to mourn their deaths. The bombing did exactly the opposite of what the terrorists had planned: instead of paralyzing the movement, it lit a fire under its feet and led to the signing of the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964.Birmingham, 1963 is a realistic but gentle introduction for children to the church bombing. The book ends with a poetic tribute to the four youngest victims.

  • Mackenzie Midles
    2019-02-22 16:06

    Birmingham, 1963 is a narrative poem that takes places during the Civil Rights movement that fought for justice and integration of African Americans throughout the United States, especially in the south. This book displays the tragic event that happened in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15th, 1963 through the use of its writing and real photographs that were taken during this time in history. On September 15th, 1963 The Klu Klux Klan planted dynamite on the outside steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church injuring twenty and taking the lives of four innocent girls: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Denise McNair, and Carole Robertson. This book reaches the minimum criteria needed for NBGS in portraying both cultural accuracy and authenticity of characters and providing in-depth treatment of cultural issues. Birmingham, 1963 uses real photography that was taken during this movement, allowing readers to see events that happened. The photograph that mostly concerned me was of a man dressed in white cloak with two spots cut out for each eye. This was photograph of a member from the Klu Klux Klan. These members harassed, threatened and murdered African Americans along with anyone who fought beside them. This one picture shows its readers the horror and power that the Klu Klux Klan had over their community. The book reaches the criteria using in-depth cultural issues by just the poem itself which is about racial hatred shown against African Americans. The sacrifice and tears that activists experienced during the Civil Right Movement are unbelievable, and this book well portrays one of the most devastating events that happened. This book is well written in very simplistic detail for any readers to understand. It is a wonderful tool for readers to comprehend the racial barriers that most whites felt against African Americans during this era, and the racial hatred they experienced.

  • Q_Ayana
    2019-02-10 13:23

    Birmingham, 1963 shares a fictional account of an eye-witness, in “the year I turned ten,” to the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a meeting place for civil rights organizers. In this tragic event, the Ku Klux Klan planted nineteen sticks of dynamite under the steps of the church, and in the aftermath, four young girls were killed – Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Denise McNair, and Carole Robertson. Weatherford’s free verse poetry is written in such a way that it softens the horrendousness of the hate crime for the reader, although the black and white photographs do not. The images shown depict the good and bad, yet memorable, moments of the Civil Rights Movement (i.e. The Children’s March, the March on Washington, signs of segregation, and the explosion at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church). Towards the end, there are poems and photos shared in memoriam of each of the four girls’ lives. To help explain the details of the event, there is an author’s note and notes about the photographs provided at the end of the book.This book reminds me of another book that I read, A Sweet Smell of Roses (2004) by Angela Johnson. Both of these books highlight the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on the children of the time period, and creatively explain their involvement in the movement. I think that Weatherford does a wonderful job at making such a vivid tragedy child-appropriate. This book would be most appropriate for students who have some background about the Civil Rights Movement, especially the violent aspects that occurred.

  • Teri Weaver
    2019-01-29 11:12

    Because of the narration and free verse form of this book, the Civil Rights experience comes alive on the page for all who read this book. The compelling photographs portray a people who fought against inequality. The text hightlights the role of the church and non-violent protest provided a way to push for equal rights for African-Americans. The text describing how local law authorities used dogs and high-powered fire hoses to stop protesters, along with the arrest of 900 children further indicates the strong resistance the protestors faced. Using the fictional eyewitness account to place the narrator in the children's choir helps the reader to realize that the four female victims of violence were real people. The use of gospel hymns showcases how music attempted to assuage the pain of the people in Birmingham. The quiet memoriams of the four girls further enhances their dashed dreams. The Civil Rights struggle is clearly defined in this text. The author's note mentions that the people of Birmingham did not receive the convictions of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombers until 39 years later because evidence was blocked by a federal government employee. This book offers excellent black and white photos along with compelling free verse to help students understand what it was like to live in Birmingham in the 1960s.

  • Paige Y.
    2019-02-22 11:24

    The day I turned tenOur church was quiet. No meetings, no marches.Mama left me in Sunday schoolWith a soft kiss and coins for the offering plate.With a seemingly simple free verse poem, Carole Boston Weatherford has brought us compelling account of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that killed four young girls. Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement and of the aftermath of the bombing illustrate the pages.This is an incredibly moving book. Even though I read it in five minutes, I found myself going back, re-reading, and carefully studying the photographs. I learned things too – I had no idea that children were so important in the Birmingham marches. I cannot imagine sending either of my daughters out to march in such a volatile situation, yet 2,500 children participated. The notes on the photographs were also informative.

  • Alexandra Sinkus
    2019-02-18 11:03

    Genre: PoetryAwards: 2008 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, 2008 Jefferson Cup Award, Jane Addams Children's Book Award, Books for Older Readers Honor Book, Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry Honor Book, Best Children's Books of 2008 —Christian Science MonitorGrade Level: 5-6Even though it is a short book, I found it very moving. The free-verse mixed with the actual photographs was something that really hits the heart. I would include this for older students since it talks a lot about violence but that is - sadly - typical for 1960's south. I would use this book during Black History Month or when learning about Civil Rights. I would have the kids write their own free verse about an event that happened.

  • Taleah
    2019-02-01 19:01

    I chose to rate this book 5 stars and add it to my favorites because it does a really good job of giving students and understanding and realistic glimpse into a very painful part of american history. I think this short story really helps bring history to life, especially from a childs perspective. This book would be a really great addition to a classroom read aloud for grades 3-5, or as a resource to understand american history and the civil rights movement for grades 4-8. Though the narrator is fictions, the book is filled with actual photographs from the civil rights movement of 1963 and actual descriptions of how children and students participated in the protests and were effected by the violence. Genre: historical fiction & historical nonfiction Reading level: 4.4

  • Phil Mitchell
    2019-02-14 16:05

    I'm a big fan of the civil rights era. This a great book to start off a group of young students. It really does justice for those who lost their lives in the church bombing. It also gives a non-biased introduction to the people who were involved in the bombing, meaning the reader knows they were guilty and there was no need to vilify them. The pictures and illustrations are great and this is the major elemental portion that does this book enough good to keep it from a three star rating. Its not a 5 because its not a feel good story. It leaves the reader feeling sorry for the little ones killed and anger towards those that would not only bomb a house of the lord, but kill its guests as well. I would use it in my classroom.

  • Christopher
    2019-01-31 13:57

    I thought this book was very much in tune with the Civil Rights Movement and the racism that was so prevalent in Birmingham and many other southern cities and states during 1963 and years earlier as well as years later. This is a book in which your emotions will either allow you to be angry or sad or both. This book is a recommendation by me because this a must read for parents to their 5th grade and older children who are or will be intrigued by the artwork and the emotional context being read to them. The 4 young girls that were killed in that church was and is a tragic case of hate because of a person's color being different that yours. It's up to parents to take the lead and make a change which can help all in a more harmonious way.

  • babyhippoface
    2019-02-19 17:08

    This a picture book that works on a young adult level as well. Archival photos paired with spare poetic verses work extremely well together, resulting in a brief but strong message. I was especially interested in the photo of the one stained glass window that survived the bombing, a window of Jesus; although the window was not shattered, Jesus' face was blown out. I never knew that, and found it quite symbolic.I never figured out what the red shapes were supposed to represent (besides blood, of course); I couldn't make sense of them.Still, this is a very good book for introducing young readers to the terror of 1963 "Bomingham".

  • Crystal
    2019-02-10 13:19

    The poems told the story of the children marching, the lunch counter protests, and the church bombing. What makes the poetry even more powerful is the use of historical photographs that bring the poems to life. There are also other illustrations like jacks and bobby socks that reinforce the idea that children were involved in this fight. They marched for their rights, but they also faced the violence that resulted. It's a powerful combination.The book would certainly work in middle school and up, but would also be fine with upper elementary for history, poetry, or simply anytime during the year for discussion.

  • Christina
    2019-02-05 13:18

    Birmingham, 1963 won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award by meeting the following criteria:1. Imaginative2. Deals with emotion and has significance beyond act of creation.3. Figurative language and has beauty and truth.4. Accessible to children.This book would be a fantastic book for Black History month. It relates to segregation and falls into place around the time MLK gave his freedom speech. Great introduction for older children. Preferably grades 4-5. They should be old enough to understand the issue at hand. Overall though, I thought it was a great book to implement in a classroom.

  • Sherrie
    2019-01-29 17:04

    Part historical picture book, part poetry, this book tells the story of the 1963 bombing of Birmingham's Sixteenth Street Baptist Church from the point of view of a 10 year old African American girl in Sunday School during the bombing. It includes stark photographs and touching poems in memory of the four young girls killed in the bombing and an afterword provides more information about the aftermath of the racially motivated attack. This book is appropriate for children of all ages and would make an excellent introduction to the civil rights struggle.

  • Shawn
    2019-01-31 14:06

    This is a rare gem. A picture book about a serious, serious subject from our history that brings an understanding of the events from a child's point of view. The text does not "talk down" to the child reader or reduce the horror of the subject. The combination of the text and the illustrations instead reveals the event to all through the Biblical "eyes of a child." This is the first book in my experience that creates a hush in any crowd of listeners and brings me chills each time I read it.

  • Hannah
    2019-02-10 17:02

    This is a more palatable text than Birmingham Sunday. This is written as a poem but includes photographs from this historical moment (church bombing). I wanted to include this along with Birmingham Sunday because I would want students to experience the very different ways in which these authors write about the event. Whereas the other of Birmingham Sunday focuses on covering the facts of the even, Weatherford focuses on capturing the mood of the event.

  • Cheyen Schenck
    2019-02-05 16:24

    The entire book explains a cultural issue, how innocent people were killed to make a statement. It describes the discrimination and a side that is not necessarily taught in classrooms, but neglected when it comes to this part of history.It is a wonderful look at how things looked during an era of racism and segregation from a child's point of view and how close to death she could have been. This book is a wonderful asset to a movement of equality text-set.

  • Kim
    2019-02-14 13:57

    Weatherford's choice of words and pictures makes for a moving tribute to all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle for Civil Rights. Told from the perspective of a 10-year-old African-American girl, the free verse prose tells the poignant story of lives and a nation were changed by a horrific act of violence on September 15, 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. The author includes notes for all the real-life photographs and the history behind the book.

  • David Schaafsma
    2019-02-03 13:54

    A good book to use with Spike Lee's Four Little Girls and The Watsons Go to Birmingham. Poetic style, fictional narrator, juxtaposes short reflections with photographs of the bombings and Civil Rights issues of the time as well as some items from the girls and what girls may have worn or liked…ends with a poem dedicated to each of the four girls… It's a picture book, a kind of quick introduction to the events.

  • Bonnie
    2019-02-09 16:07

    This was an interesting point of view to tell this particular story from a young girl's tenth birthday and the stuggles that were endured during the course of that year. The pictures were clear and captured the feelings of the people in the photographs perfectly. The poetry verses were a nice tough to tell a story in a different way.

  • Iqra Masood
    2019-02-16 15:20

    When I was reading this biography, I was feeling sad and somewhat happy. Sad for those people who died for raising their voice. Happy for those who did not give up for their rights, such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and his brother.I wish everyone would have the same right as white just like in this present day. That way everyone would be living happily.

  • Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
    2019-02-15 13:55

    This moving book describes, in ever-increasing intensity, the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Alabama in September 1963, that resulted in the deaths of 4 innocent young girls. Told from the point of view of a young girl attending church at the time, its spare, poetic text underlines the horror of the event. Outstanding and highly recommended!

  • Kenny
    2019-01-25 14:54

    A short, easy read. This book was a nice piece of informational poetry that gave good, well proven facts on the Birmingham Bombing in 1963. It gave tribute to those that protested for freedom, as well as the four girls who died in the Birmingham church on September 15, 1963.

  • Megan
    2019-01-30 12:12

    A fictional narrator recounts the very real church bombing in Birmingham where 4 girls died. Simple free verse poetry is powerfully combined with actual photographs from the sad event. Use this with The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 or a unit on the Civil Rights era.

  • Nicole Linder
    2019-01-29 14:21

    A sad reality in our history. Tells of segregation and hate crimes. Its sad to hear the narration of a child growing up in a world like this and seeing death. Good perspective to see through a child's eyes.

  • Karla
    2019-01-27 16:16

    This is a fictional yet effective account of the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, in 1963. Accompanied by photographs, background info, and resources for more information, it is a heart-felt look at the event from the point of view of a child who was there.

  • pati
    2019-01-27 13:01

    a book-long poem depicting the African-American struggle for Civil Rights is set against the backdrop of the 1963 church bombing that killed 4 teenage girls is interspersed with photographs from the turmoil of Birmingham in 1963

  • Laurie
    2019-01-27 18:03

    Powerful book to share as a quick read aloud about America in the 60's and the hate and violence associated with racial prejudice. Includes bios on the four girls that lost their lives in the church bombing.