Board Book Review: Story of Rosa Parks

Our thirteenth board book, this simple biography of Rosa Parks proved more engaging and interesting than expected.

The Story of Rosa Parks by Patricia A. Pingry, illustrated by Steven Walker.
WorthyKids/Ideals, Nashville, Tennessee, 2007.
Board book biography, 26 pages.

This deceptively simple biography of Rosa Parks covers all the major events in her life in a manner appropriate for even the youngest children.

The Story of Rosa Parks cover resized
The Story of Rosa Parks by Patricia A. Pingry, illustrated by Steven Walker.

Honestly, I was surprised by this book.  We have several of Pingry’s religious board books, and they are solid additions to the church rotation but not especially moving.

If we teach kids about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. as toddlers, then by grade school they should be ready to learn about Lonnie Johnson, Fannie Lou Hammer, Dave the Potter, Mae Jemison, and more.  Then in middle school they can move on to studying people like Claudette Colvin, Misty Copeland, Ida B. Wells, and John Lewis.  That’s the ideal, right?

This book was purchased for Baby.  I did not expect the older kids to show any interest in it.  However, N picked it up under the guise of “reading to baby” and kept looking at it even after Baby went off for a diaper change.  My new reader wanted to use it for reading practice.  The kids sat through more than one reading of it.

The Story of Rosa Parks p 5-6 resized
The Story of Rosa Parks, pages 5 and 6.

N really liked that it “gave all the facts about her life.”  Both said that they learned something they didn’t know before by reading it, although N wanted to know more about how she met her husband (not likely to be covered in a board book).  Baby also is enthralled by this book, and will stare at the cover for extended periods of time.  He’s not so keen on reading it yet, just strongly wants to hold it and look at the closed book in various ways.

When the kids like it that much, my opinion hardly matters, but I felt the same way about all of Pingry’s books I’ve read – it’s a solid book, well constructed, that tells the story of Parks’ life in a few sentences (although the vocabulary is at times challenging – it’s not an early reader).  Walker’s illustrations are simple but interesting, and a child could be entertained by looking at the pictures, although they’ll get more out of the book if they listen to it also.

The Story of Rosa Parks p 15-16 resized
Pages 15 and 16 of The Story of Rosa Parks.

There are between one and four sentences in every two-page spread, perfect for a board book.  The text doesn’t shy away from difficult words like seamstress or arrested, but the narrative is pared down to a child’s level of understanding.  Instead of saying that Rosa was too tired to move, it more correctly states “Rosa was tired of giving up her seat for white people.” (page 18)  This would be a great book to practice retelling skills with, and learn about Parks as well.

At a whopping $5 purchase price, we’ve already gotten our money’s worth out of this book, and Baby hasn’t even chewed the edges yet.  Recommended.

Author: colorfulbookreviews

I work in a library by day and parent the rest of the time. I am passionate about good books representing the full spectrum of human diversity for every age group and reading level. This blog is my attempt to help parents, educators, and librarians find the best children's books authored by or featuring characters of color.

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