Thursday, July 18, 2013
White Socks Only
Author: Evelyn Coleman
Illustrator: Tyrone Geter
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Co.
Publication Year: 1996
Location: Knox County Public Library- Lawson McGhee
Awards: 1996 Notable Book for Children, Smithsonian Magazine; Pick of the Lists, American Bookseller
Summary: A story told by an African American woman in a form of dialect. A girl sneaks off to town by herself wearing her finest Sunday outfit, including white socks. She wants to find some cement so she can test out the saying "It could get so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk." As she's walking, she says a water fountain with a sign that says "Whites Only." She takes off her good black shoes and hops up to the fountain wearing only her clean white socks. Of course she get caught and gets yelled at, but other people from the town start to join her and it becomes an act of civil disobedience. Although she gets whipped by a man, the mysterious "Chicken Man" rescues her and sends her home where she's praised for "doing some good."
Classroom Ideas: Such a great example of dialect. ("And child, was it hot! On that kind of day a firecracker might light up by itself.")
Also, the figurative language here is amazing, and the descriptions are wonderful. If I was reading this with kids, I'd read the narrator's description of herself without letting them see the illustration and then have them draw her.
Obviously, the content fits perfectly with a discussion about segregation and Jim Crow laws. It is especially interesting to think about the awakening of children to the prejudice that was all around them and would be a great companion to the book Goin' Someplace Special.