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Seattle Children's Theatre Recommended Reading List

Production:  When I Grow Up I'm Gonna Get Some Big Words
Synopsis by Deborah Lynn Frockt

When I Grow Up Iím Gonna Get Some Big Words explores the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950ís and 1960ís through the thoughts, ideas and actions of its most prominent leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the many young activists who were so critical to the Movementís successes. Young African Americans throughout the South were inspired by Dr. Kingís call to involvement; and likewise, the massive participation of youth in non-violent protest was an inspiration to Dr. King. Black children who grew up in the segregated South recognized that no matter what their achievements in life, a Jim Crow world would forever limit the potential of what they might become individually or collectively. They heeded the call to direct action in an effort to change the world for themselves and their parents. Just as Dr. Kingís life was undeniably altered by his involvement in the struggle for civil rights, so were the lives of the youngest soldiers in his non-violent army. On buses, at lunch counters, in the streets; in places like Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham, children and teenagers transformed themselves and a nation.


Booklist prepared by Ann Dalton, Columbia Library, Seattle Public Library. Books available from

Book Spotlight
When I Grow Up Iím Gonna Get Some Big Words uses existing text from these three books to create dialogue, action and dramatic structure.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.; edited by Clayborne Carson
The Autobiography is an excellent introduction to Dr. Kingís work through his own words. It is fascinating for adult readers (particularly in its detail of Dr. Kingís work after 1965), but it would also be appropriate for young people with adult guidance.
Oh, Freedom! Kids Talk About the Civil Rights Movement With the People Who Made It Happen; by Casey King and Linda Barrett Osborne
Oh, Freedom! is a group of interviews by contemporary children of the adults who participated in the Movement as young people. Each of these oral histories is a testament to the power of ordinary people telling incredible stories, in their own incredible words.
Freedom's Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories; by Ellen Levine
Freedomís Children documents the Movement from the point of view of its youngest activists in their own words. It also provides incisive and accessible historical narrative as an introduction to each chapter.

For Children
Cracking the Wall: The Struggles of the Little Rock Nine; Eileen Lucas, illustrated by Mark Anthony Dare to Dream: Coretta Scott King and the Civil Rights Movement; Angela Shelf Medearis, illustrated by Anna Rich
The Friendship; Mildred Taylor, illustrated by Max Ginsburg I Want to Be; Thylias Moss, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Kids Explore America's African-American Heritage; Westridge Young Writers Workshop Let Freedom Ring: A Ballad of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Myra Cohn Livingston, illustrated by Samuel Byrd
Martin Luther King; Rosemary Bray, illustrated by Malcah Zeldis My Dream of Martin Luther King; Faith Ringgold
Somewhere Today: A Book of Peace; Shelley Moore Thomas, photographs by Eric Futran The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963: A Novel; Christopher Paul Curtis

For Parents and Educators
I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World; Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by James M. Washington
The National Civil Rights Museum Celebrates Everyday People; Alice Faye Duncan, photographs by J. Gerard Smith If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King; Ellen Levine, illustrated by Beth Peck
Under Our Skin: Kids Talk About Race; Debbie and Tom Birdseye, photographs by Robert Crum Witnesses to Freedom: Young People Who Fought for Civil Rights; Belinda Rochelle

For booklists from other productions of the Seattle Children's Theatre, click here.


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