Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: If A Bus Could Talk

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 If A Bus Could Talk:  The Story of Rosa Parks written and illustrated by Faith Riggold is a book about the story of Rosa Parks and her act of courage during the Civil Rights Movement.

Marcie, on her way to school, finds herself on a driverless bus occupied by a group of unfamiliar passengers who don’t seem to notice she’s there.  A disembodied voice tells her that this used to be the Cleveland Avenue bus but is now the Rosa Parks bus, and then launches into an account of the woman’s life. The author recounts the dramatic events triggered by Parks’ refusal to give up her seat: the Montgomery bus boycott; the leadership, persecution, and death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; the Supreme Court decision to ban bus segregation; and public recognition of the woman who started it all.  The story ends when Parks herself enters the bus for a birthday celebration with the passengers who are now revealed as personages from her history.

Excerpt:  This morning a strange-looking bus pulled up at my stop.  It didn’t look anything like my usual bus, but it was on time and I didn’t want to be late for school, so I decided to take it.  The door opened and a voice called out, “Step on up, young lady.”  I got on thinking, I’ll ask the driver which bus this is. (pg.1)

Curriculum Connections

Rosa Parks was an important figure during the Civil Rights Movement.  This book can be used when teaching civics (SOL 2.10), which states that the student will explain the responsibilities of a good citizen, with emphasis on describing actions that can improve the community.

Additional Resources

1. This is a video of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

2. Little Rock 9 were the first African Americans to attend Little Rock’s Central High.  This article is about these courageous African American kids who broke the race barrier at Little Rock High School.

3.  Time for Kids is a site with a time line of events that have occurred as part of the Civil Rights Movement.

Book:  If A Bus Could Talk:  The Story of Rosa Parks
Author:  Faith Ringgold
Illustrator:  Faith Ringgold
Publisher:  Aladdin
Publication Date:  2003
Pages:  32
Grade Range:  PreK-3
ISBN:  0-689-85676-8