John Lewis in the Lead

By The Oneota Reading Journal

This powerful narrative biography gives children insight into one of the civil rights activists lesser known by children, John Lewis. His story is one of great success as he went from growing up as a sharecropper to being elected into Congress in 1986. The reader learns how he was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to take action, and how he later worked with Dr. King. A significant portion of the story discusses his work for voters’ rights and his involvement in Selma-to-Montgomery Marches. While the events in Lewis’ life are intense and politically charged, this book does an excellent job describing them to a younger audience without watering down the brutality and emotions of his experience. The full-page painted illustrations complement the emotions of the story. Overall, this is an excellent story to expand students’ knowledge of the civil rights movement beyond Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks to emphasize that it was a movement whose success was due to many people united in the fight.