By Sarafina Wright | The Washington Informer | word in black
(TWI/WIB) – Civil rights legend Ruby Bridges will release a children’s picture book later this year titled “I am Ruby Bridges.”
For the first time, Bridges will share her story from the perspective of her six-year-old self, offering an intimate look through a child’s lens into her experiences and the role she played in the civil rights movement. .
At age 6, Bridges became the first black student to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana.
Based on these pivotal events in 1960, Bridges embraces his role in the movement and the meaning of his name by using the picture book to build a bridge between all people and pave the way for future generations.
A glossary on the back will help children learn definitions of key words throughout the book.
“‘I Am Ruby Bridges’ is my most personal book to date,” Bridges noted. “It’s not just about my school integration experience. It’s also about the innocent way a child sees the world. Writing as a six-year-old myself reminded me how differently children interpret things than adults.
“Kids are much better at finding humor in everything, and even in times of great challenge, that’s what this book really does. It allows young children to learn history in a fun way, which I am very excited about,” she said.
Bridges’ story of courage comes to life with vivid imagery created by NAACP-nominated artist Nikkolas Smith, which illustrates the book.
Widely celebrated for his interest in “artivism,” Smith creates art that sparks important conversations about social justice in today’s world, Bridges said.
“Nikkolas Smith is the perfect illustrator for this book. He is so creative and has the same unlimited imagination as a child. Working with him has been a great match. It’s like he’s taking pictures out of my head and putting them on the page. His art is so real and it comes from the heart. I know the kids are going to really react to it,” Bridges added.
Smith said that as a black kid growing up in the South and after seeing Norman Rockwell’s Ruby Bridges painting on the wall, considers it a huge honor to now have the opportunity to illustrate the picture book about the civil rights icon.
“I was always one of the few black faces in my elementary school and I knew Ms. Ruby was a huge reason there was progress,” Smith said. “It’s such an honor to be part of this project. She is an American hero and has been a life [hero] to me.”
“It was a surreal moment at the start of this project, being able to speak with Ms. Ruby and understand this period of her life through her six-year-old eyes. Being both from the South, we connected on many topics ranging from great -Louisiana mothers to racial tensions in the pursuit of justice and equality,” he said.
Of them additional picture books written by Bridges, “Dear Ruby Bridges: Letters from Kids Speaking up for a Better World” and “A Talk with My Teacher”, will be released in future seasons by Scholastic.
“It’s been 22 years since we published Ruby’s landmark book, ‘Through My Eyes.’ Now Ruby is telling her memorable story, for the very first time, from her perspective as a child,” said Liza Baker, vice president and publisher of Scholastic imprint Orchard Book.
“Nikkolas Smith captures Ruby’s story with tenderness and emotion. This marks the continuation of a publishing partnership between Ruby Bridges and Scholastic that will last for years,” she said.
Support for this Sacramento OBSERVER article was provided to Word In Black (WIB) by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. WIB is a collaboration of 10 black-owned media that includes print and digital partners.