3 Good Books About Ruby Bridges

Picture of Ruby Bridges being escorted to school

Once again we've dug through the reviews and ratings at GoodReads, LibraryThing and Amazon.com to find the best, most highly rated books to recommend. The topic this time is a little 6-year-old girl, who helped change history when she became the first black student ever to attend a previously all-while school in New Orleans, Louisiana. (see wikipedia entry)

The year was 1960, and her sweet innocence was juxtaposed against a background of hatred so fierce that marshals were needed to protect her, this little child who could have scarcely understood what the turmoil was all about.

Ruby Bridges

bookcover of Ruby Bridges Goes To School bookRuby Bridges Goes To School: My True Story
(Scholastic Reader Level 2)
by Ruby Bridges

2/9/12 GoodReads Rating: 4.47 stars — 34 votes

With simple text and historical photographs, this book explores an amazing moment in history and the courage of a young girl who stayed strong in the face of racism.

Reading Information:
Word Count: 450
Page Count: 32
Interest Level: Elementary
Accelerated Reading level: 2.5 / points: 0.5
AR quiz: 134502
Lexile: 410L

bookcover of Cole's The Story Of Ruby Bridges bookThe Story Of Ruby Bridges
by Robert Coles, George Ford (Illustrator)

2/9/12 GoodReads Rating: 4.29 stars — 985 votes

Book Description: A Pulitzer Prize-winning author and a Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator bring to life the true story of an extraordinary six-year-old who helped shape American history when she became the first African-American sent to first grade in an all white school. This moving picture book captures the courage of a little girl standing alone in the face of racism.

Pam's Comments: Though very popular, I don't particularly like this book because, to be frank, it's a little melodramatic. In one place, for example, it has the teacher asserting that the crowd looked like it might kill Ruby. And in another, there's a picture where she is angelically shown praying for the souls of those in the angry crowd. Not that these events didn't occur. It's just that the text and images are very emotionally charged and that's not my style.
  • On the plus side, there is a lovely religious faith shown in this book.
  • On the down side, I think this book could be scary for younger children.
  • Probably fine for 4th Graders on up.

Please, God, try to forgive those people.
Because even if they say those bad things,
They don't know what they're doing.
So You could forgive them,
Just like You did those folks a long time ago,
When they said terrible things about You.

Reading Information:
Word Count: 1,007
Page Count: 32
Interest Level: Elementary
Accelerated Reading level: 4.4 / points: 0.5
AR quiz: 14855
Lexile: AD730L

bookcover of Bridge's Through My Eyes bookThrough My Eyes
by Ruby Bridges, Margo Lundell (Editor)

2/9/12 GoodReads Rating: 4.32 stars — 449 votes

Parents' Choice® Gold Award Winner
Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Nominee
Carter G. Woodson Book Award

This striking book has Ruby Bridges again recounting her experiences with integration in the 1960's. What I particularly liked were the pages where Ruby talked about her relationship with Mrs. Henry, her First Grade teacher. I also liked the positive voice of this book which aptly demonstrates what a remarkable person Ms. Bridges really is.

The book is oversized and the pictures are too. I think middle-graders and adults can gain (or regain) an understanding of what the times were like.

Reading Information:
Word Count: 11,246
Page Count: 64
Interest Level: Middle-Grades
Accelerated Reading level: 5.9 / points: 2.0
AR quiz: 36565
Lexile: 860L
compiled by Pam T

For other books on important men and women in the Equal Rights movement, see our Index.