Back of the Bus
By Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Philomel Books, 2010
Told from the perspective of a young African-American boy sitting in the back of the bus, this book is a fictionalized story of December 1, 1955, the day Rosa Parks refused to move from her seat near the front of the bus and police arrested her.
Author Aaron Reynolds uses a tiger’s eye marble to symbolize how the black population of the day had to ‘hide’ their true selves to live in the ‘white’ society. The young boy, who had been playing with a marble on the bus, was told to put the marble away as more white people boarded the bus and, again, when the commotion began with Ms. Parks. After Rosa Parks is taken to jail, the boy brings out the marble and holds it up declaring he no longer has to hide it. While all children will not understand the symbolism consciously, this is a great story to launch into a discussion on Rosa Parks and civil rights in the ‘60’s.
Floyd Cooper’s illustrations bring a softness to an extremely uncomfortable event, an event that changed the course of the civil rights movement.