To continue my series in which I post again some of the best PBT books published in this century, I chose a story from American history that I believe the whole world should know. This picture book will offer another opportunity to explore how spiritual values can be tied to important historical phenomena. This book also reminds Americans how things used to be here. I believe remembering our history (especially our mistakes) is especially important politically and spiritually.
My impetus for posting this particular book today is an announcement I heard on Central Alabama's public radio WBHM. A play has opened in Birmingham that explores the relationship between black people and Jewish people during segregation. Highlighted in this drama is The Green Book, the title of the play and a publication for African Americans who were traveling through the segregated south. The WBHM article explains that The Green Book was inspired by a similar book published for Jews. Here's the story I heard and details about the play if you'd like to learn more. Below is my previous PBT post describing a fabulous picture book which tells the importance of The Green Book through the eyes of a young girl.
Picture Book: Ruth and the Green Book
Author: Calvin Alexander Ramsey with Gwen Strauss
Illustrator: Floyd Cooper
Summary: Ruth is excited because she and her parents are driving from Chicago to Alabama to visit her grandmother. It’s the 1950s so before the trip, Ruth’s mother spends days cooking meals knowing there will be few restaurants willing to serve Negros. After being rejected from various gas stations, hotels, and restaurants, Ruth’s family spends the night it their car. Eventually they learn to look for Esso stations where they will be welcomed. At one Esso, they purchase The Negro Motorist Green Book, a guide to places that would welcome black travelers. Ruth learns to use the book and is so happy to experience the hospitality of fellow African Americans.
Hanna’s Comments: I am a passionate advocate of the spiritual practice of hospitality so I especially loved the part of this story where Ruth’s family is welcomed into a “tourist home.” These were homes listed in The Green Book where travelers were warmly welcomed, in this case for no charge and a fun night’s sleep. In the back of the book, find The History of The Negro Motorist Green Book. 2014 was the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Bill which outlawed Jim Crow Laws and therefore also the anniversary of the last edition of The Green Book. Thank goodness, this book is now a relic of the last century and no longer necessary for black individuals to comfortably travel for long distances. It is my prayer that families in our country will never have to travel in fear, surrounded by hatred.
Original Publisher & Date: Scholastic, 2010
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: Treat the stranger as the native among you (Leviticus 19:34); the Good Samaritan parable (Luke 10:30-37); seek to show hospitality (Romans 12:13); do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers (Hebrews 13:2); show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
Idea(s) for Application: Use this picture book in a lesson or sermon on how scripture, like The Green Book, can be a comfort, a safety net, and a guide. Also, consider that the author of The Green Book might have been inspired by God’s desires for humans to be safe and hospitable in all situations.