The March Against Fear by Ann Bausum

For some reason I don’t read too many nonfiction books for kids, so I was excited to read Ann Bausum‘s March Against Fear, a National Geographic selection that was published earlier this year. I think this is a great book for either middle or high school students.

I have shared before that I love David McCullough‘s books. He’s definitely one of my favorite authors right now, and he has definitely made me into a huge fan of reading history. I’ve always thought that McCullough should write books for middle and high schoolers. I think his narratives are engaging and tell history in a way that is less like a textbook and more like someone telling a great story.  And then I read March Against Fear, and I started to think. Maybe we do have already have a writer of history that is accessible to middle and high school kids: Ann Bausum!  So Ann Bausum, thank you! I think there is a need for your work. You bring history alive!

In her book The March Against Fear, Ann Bausum records a lesser known march for Civil Rights: The March Against Fear. Started by James Meredith in 1966, this march has never received as much attention as the Selma march. Meredith was shot on the first day of the march that went from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi. After his recovery, he joined other Civil Rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael on the march.

Here’s what I LOVE about the book:

(1) It’s timely. Students and teachers interested in tracing current movements for racial equality to their historical roots will enjoy this book. It portrays an understudied march and details its successes and challenges. It’s so important for students to understand that current movements for social justice do not exist in isolation.

(2) It’s an accessible historical text. Middle and high school students will appreciate Bausum’s style. The book reads like an oral history, and it draws readers into its pages. I recommend this book to any teacher who teaches American history. Bausum does insert her opinions into the text at times, and I think this is important to discuss with students. She also reveals multiple sides (e.g., Black Power movement, anti- violence movement) to African Americans’ struggle for equality.

(3) It’s multimodal. As a professor of technology and media literacy, I enjoyed the book’s multimodal elements. Bausum’s written text is complemented with photographs and quotes from multiple perspectives. Each chapter begins with a timeline regarding the date(s), miles walked, and routes. I think this book can serve as a mentor text for students who want to reveal the findings of a research project in a less traditional way than the research paper.

Let me know what you think about The March Against Fear in the comments below!

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher for an honest review.


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