Learning about Rosa Parks

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks made history by simply and courageously refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger. During a time of public, educational, and social segregation, Rosa Parks was one of many who paved the way for equal freedoms and rights in our country today. The Civil rights movement helped to bring change, creating laws that made sure that all citizens had the same rights no matter their race. (United States History II9.a) By reading about her accomplishments, children can understand that just one person can make a big change.

Listed below are some books based on Rosa Parks that illustrate her life and accomplishments.


Rosa by Nikki Giovanni. Illustrated by Bryan Collier

At home with her family, Rosa Parks gets ready to start her day. She doesn’t know yet that the choices she will make will unleash a chain of events that spark a boycott and fuel a movement. After working all day, sewing Sunday suits and blouses, Rosa heads home. She finds a place to sit, but not before long, she is being yelled at by the bus driver to move but Rosa refuses to move.

Excerpt: “She thought about her mother and her grandmother and knew they would want her to be strong. She had not sought this moment but was ready for it. When a policeman bent down to ask her: Auntie, are you going to move?” all the strength of all the people joined in her. Rosa Parks said no.”

Seeing what has just happened inspires people to act and not before long, a great leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. is standing before the masses gathering people to protest peacefully.

The illustrations colorful, created with a variety of materials and beautiful to look at.

This Caldecott Honor book.


Back of The Bus by Aaron Reynolds. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Riding in the back of the bus with his Mama, a little boy plays with his marble. When the marble slips away, it is Rosa Parks who rolls it back to him. She is smiling and sitting towards the front of the bus. As the bus gets crowded, it comes to a stop, and he overhears some yelling. His mama hushes him. He can hear the bus driver threaten to call the police. Sitting there waiting, he plays with his marble. His mama scolds him to put it away, so he hides it in his pocket. He gets the feeling that something is wrong. The little boy knows Rosa Parks doesn’t belong there but she refuses to move. As the police take Rosa Parks away, everyone is watching out the window…..

This story is written from a little boy’s perspective. This unique point of view can help children make connections to their own feelings and interpretations. It has colorful illustrations that help set the mood and tone of this book.

BOYCOTT BLUES: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation.

Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation. By Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Dog Tired, the story teller, sings the Boycott Blues.


This story begins with shoes.

This story is all for true.

This story walks. And walks. And walks.

To the blues.

Dog Tired narrates Rosa Park’s story: While she is sitting in the bus, Jim Crow, “with his bony wings”, comes to “peck, peck, peck” but Rosa Parks wont get up. (In this story, Jim Crow becomes a character- a bird that pecks and pecks trying to keep people segregated.) She refuses to move. That night, Martin Luther King Jr. tells the gathered crowds that they will peacefully fight for justice and boycott the buses. From then on people walked, some rode taxis, and rode bikes, but they wouldn’t ride the bus. Not until the Supreme Court got rid of Jim Crow.

The author weaves the blues in and throughout the story.

 IF A BUS COULD TALK: The Story of Rosa Parks.

If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks. By Faith Ringgold

Marcie, a young girl, on her way to school, gets on an unusual bus. As she sits down a voice calls out to tell her that seat is reserved! Alarmed, she isn’t sure where the voice is coming from- soon enough- she realizes it is the bus! The bus Tells Marcie about Rosa Park’s life, her family, and her life as a young girl. Rosa grows up, gets married, and works as a seamstress. On her way home after work, she gets on a bus, and when she is asked to get up from her seat, she refuses. She is taken to jail, but her actions have inspired many to boycott the buses. The bus continues to narrate Rosa parks life. The bus pulls up and stops at Rosa Parks Boulevard. Suddenly Rosa Parks gets on the bus! Inside, she greets the riders on the bus and together they celebrate Rosa’s birthday. Marcie finally arrives at school ready to share her story with her class.


A Picture Book of Rosa Parks by David Adler. Illustrated by Robert Casilla

Davis Adler recounts Rosa Parks life and upbringing in this children’s biography. Adler recounts her upbringing, growing up under Jim Crow,  going to a segregated school, and living in a community where the Ku Klux Klan made their presence known. The author recounts her heroic actions and accomplishments.

This is a great book for any young student to use for fact gathering or even a reference for a paper. There are colorful illustrations on every page to help guide students through the text.

Great Resources for Kids

Kids Konnect

A brief summary of Rosa Parks life. Includes links to videos and images.

Stand Up For Your Rights /PBSkids

Learn more about Civil Rights Movement. Explore games, audio interviews, and images.

Martin Luther King Jr

Learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. You can find games, coloring pages and other activities.

Montgomery Bus Boycott

Explore different biographies, read newspaper articles, explore a time line and read first hand accounts.

Biography Channel

Watch some great videos about Rosa Parks life.

Great Resources for Teachers

Taking A Stand With Rosa Parks Lesson Plan

A lesson designed to help students learn about people who shaped history by reading their biographies and researching the age in which they lived.

Scholastic for Teachers

Resource site with biography and vocabulary words.

Mr. Donn’s Lesson Plans

The stories  are designed for students to read and respond to through discussion. Lesson plan extends and involves writing. This is geared towards older students, but the stories can be read to younger students.

Scholastic for Teachers 

Here you can find list of books, activities, and free printables.

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