Brain Hive Book Buzz: Civil Rights History Theme Sets

May is a month with lots going on in it. Right out of the gate, we have May Day, celebrating not only the arrival of spring, but also the history and legacy of workers’ rights movements across the world. Then Cinco de Mayo follows closely behind, and before we know it, we’re celebrating Mother’s Day and congratulating high school graduates. And finally, as May turns to June, we observe Memorial Day and schools begin to let out for the summer. With all of these events taking place in one short month, I’ve decided that rather than sticking to one unifying theme, my Brain Hive book buzz blog posts during May will be similarly broad in topic.

Today, I’ll be showcasing two titles from the Civil Rights History theme sets you may have seen on your Brain Hive homepage this morning (for a refresher on how to find these theme sets and customize the appearance of your homepage, click here). With much of the nation’s current attention focused on issues surrounding race and civil rights, direct your students toward these titles to help frame the events they’re seeing covered by media outlets and reflected in social media.

john lewis in the lead no crystal stair

Check out John Lewis in the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement, by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson, illustrated by Benny Andrews (Lee & Low) from our K-5 Civil Rights History theme set. This biography of Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis focuses on his contribution to the Montgomery bus boycotts and the Selma voting rights marches (the 50th anniversary of which took place just a few weeks ago, in March).

And in our 6-12 Civil Rights History theme set, check out No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Carolrhoda LAB). Read with your students about passionate literacy proponent Lewis Michaux, whose Harlem bookstore was a cultural, political, and educational meeting ground for everyday folks, as well as prominent political and literary figures from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Questions or comments? Feel free to get in touch with us via email at, or give us a call at 855-554-4483.

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