Last week I read my third grade students Cynthia Levinson and Vanessa Brantley Newton’s The Youngest Marcher. At the end of each day we read a picture book, and I thought The Youngest Marcher would be a good one to share with my students. I had planned on finishing the book before the bell rang and the day ended. Our discussion around the book and Audrey Faye Hendricks’s story was so rich that the bell rang before we had even made it halfway through the book. We finished the book the next day. Our discussion day 2 was as powerful as it was the day we started the book.
The Youngest Marcher is the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks. Audrey was a child that grew up in the segregated south. She spent a week in a juvenile hall at 9 years old for marching with the Children’s Crusades. Audrey’s willingness to go to jail for what she believed in blew my students’ minds.
One of my favorite things about books like The Youngest Marcher, is learning about an amazing person that I didn’t know prior to reading the book. My students are well versed in people like Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, and Amelia Earhart. I feel that introducing them to heroes that might not be super famous helps them to dream big. It helps them to see that you don’t have to be Lebron James of Barak Obama to make a difference. If an 8 year old kids reads about a girl that was willing to go to jail for what she believed in, then maybe that 8 year old kid will one day make a choice that makes the world a better and safer place for others.