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. . . If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King Paperback – January 1, 1994


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

How did people escape on the Underground Railroad? What was it like to land on Ellis Island?How did it feel to travel the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon? Ellen Levine has revealed worldsof fascinating adventure with her nonfiction books for young readers.

Although Ellen Levine enjoys reading and writing fiction, most of her books for young readershave been nonfiction. “Writing nonfiction lets me in behind the scenes of the story. I enjoylearning new things and meeting new people, even if they lived 200 years ago.”

“Real heroes,” Levine says, “aren't necessarily on TV or in the news. They can be ordinarypeople who are willing to take risks for causes they believe in. Nonfiction offers a way tointroduce young readers to real people who have shown tremendous courage, even when facedwith great danger. All of us have the potential. And one doesn't have to be a grown-up,” sheadds.

When she's not writing, Levine likes to share the excitement of research and the importance ofaccuracy with young readers. “Many young people think research is dull; you go to anencyclopedia, copy information, give it a title, and call it a report.” Using her books asexamples, Ellen explains how to get other, more interesting information. “I may not mention theexact words, but I talk to young people about primary and secondary sources. If I'm speakingwith third graders, I ask them, 'Where would I go if I wanted to find out what it's like to be athird grader?' Most will say, 'Read a book.' But when they say, 'Ask a third grader,' I knowthey've understood what I mean by a primary source of inspiration.”

For If You Were an Animal Doctor, for example, Ellen witnessed an emergency operation on acow. While doing research in Wyoming for Ready, Aim, Fire!, her biography of Annie Oakley,she got to hold the gun Ms. Oakley is believed to have shot in the presence of the Queen ofEngland. “It gave me such a strong feeling about this person,” she says. “That's part of research,too.”

Ellen Levine is the author of many acclaimed books, both fiction and nonfiction. Among them:If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon, If Your Name Was Changed at Ellis Island, I Hate English!, If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King, and Secret Missions. Her recent book, Freedom's Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories, was named one of the Ten Best Children's Books of the Year by The New York Times, and Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association.

Ellen divides her time between New York City and Salem, New York.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 810L (What's this?)
  • Series: If You…
  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks; Updated edition (January 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 059042582X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0590425827
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 9 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ellen Levine has always been drawn to stories of people who struggled for justice, and of ordinary people who did extraordinary things. She was fascinated by Henry "Box" Brown, whose escape is recounted in The Underground Railroad by William Still, first published in 1872. Ms. Levine was awed by Henry's ingenious idea and moved by his incredible courage. Among the author's award-winning books are Freedom's Children, winner of the Jane Addams Peace Award and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; and Darkness Over Denmark, a Jame Addams Peace Award Honor Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. She lives in New York City and Salem, New York.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By X. Libris on January 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
Whenever teachers in our predominantly white elementary school ask me to recommend a title pertaining to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or to African American history, this is one of the first books I suggest for grades 4, 5 and 6.The question and answer format lends itself to reading aloud and then discussing topics that come up, like segregation, white supremacy, the Montgomery bus boycott, etc. I recently read part of this book to a fourth grade class who just had "segregation" as a vocabulary word. The students were quite attentive and asked some excellent questions.The title is a bit misleading in that some might view it as a biography of Dr. King. While many sections do draw upon personal events in Dr. King's life, such as when he was a youngster riding in the car with his father and he heard a police officer call his dad "boy." Or again, when he was young and he was told he could no longer play with his white friends. But as the title says, it's really about if you lived at the "time" of Dr. King. Therefore, it's an excellent introduction to many aspects of the Civil Rights movement.While the watercolor illustrations are an improvement over the black and white drawings in earlier editions of this "If You Lived At the Time Of" series, in this case I think the text could be more fully enhanced with actual photographs, especially since many of these illustrations are copied from well-known photographs.All in all, this is an excellent introduction to the Civil Rights Movement for upper-elementary students (and apparently for middle-school students according to another review here). This is one title that, in my opinion, should be in every elementary school in the nation. Recommended.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book to my middle school students every year. Levine explains the need for a civil rights movement in terms that kids can understand. This book makes students want to learn more about this important event in American history.
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Format: Paperback
This book covers segregation and what that entailed in many spheres of life for people. The book shows how people's lives were very different based on race. It's kind of ironic that kids of different race could often play together when they were little but as they got older, they were more segregated. The book highlights the beginning of the Civil Rights movement with the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Rosa Parks is identified as the mother of the Civil Rights Movement. In this book, kids get to learn about the success of peaceful resistance. In the face of great opposition, many chose to adhere to a higher standard of life that led the way for freedom today, although it often meant facing danger and adversity back then. The book shows how the government helped and hindered the Civil Rights movement in different ways. That's important to be able to recognize. There are times when government systems should be questioned in a peaceful way, as we see happening with the Civil Rights movement. This is a great study on the history of Civil Rights. (Also, it's very much worth a special trip to the Rosa Parks museum in Montgomery, AL. The museum is set up to help you feel like you are right there back in the times of the early movement. It's helpful to be able to experience what life was like at a time before there was the freedom that exists today. We got to there just this last week. It was great learning on a whole new level. Also, if you get a chance....eat at Odessa's Blessings. It's so worth the trip!)
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Format: Paperback
Even though If You Lived At the Time of Martin Luther King is a picture book, it doesn’t pull any punches. It discusses lynching and what it is, the KKK, and the multiple killings, bombings, and other violence related to the civil rights movement. It doesn’t go into graphic detail but it still may be too much if you have a sensitive child. It’s too much for my seven and nine year old boys at this point, but I’m hoping I can read it with them in the next couple of years. This book is 79 pages long so if you read it with your child, I would plan on it taking two or three sessions to get through. Fortunately it’s divided into sections so there are pre-made stopping points.

I loved that this book didn’t sugar coat the fact that even though the civil rights movements is over there is still more work to be done and inequality still exists in America. This book was published in 1994 so there is no mention of Clinton or Obama. It would wonderful if an updated version was released.

I think this book is appropriate up through middle school. Even though it’s a picture book, it’s not babyish in any way. I highly recommend this book if you are wanting your children to have a good overview of the history of black people and civil rights in this country from the end of slavery up until current day.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicola Mansfield on August 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
Reason for Reading: Read aloud to ds as part of our history curriculum.

As with all "If You..." books, the book is presented in a series of questions and answers which progress naturally from a beginning point to an ending. After the brief introduction which leads us up to the plight of the black people in the US in the fifties and sixties the book starts with the question "What was segregation?" This is a very thorough book which looks at the Civil Rights Movement from the earliest rumblings of the brave lone men and woman who took a stand by sitting on a bus in the white section or sitting in diners for white people all the way through to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination and modern day prejudice. Though the book's title refers to MLK, this is not a biography of him and he is not mentioned until well into the book. Of course once he is mentioned then he and the movement become inseparable, but the book is about the times first.

My son was very interested in this book, and with us being Canadians this was the first time he had heard about this topic in such depth. Of course, we have come across the subject in our readings to date and I've discussed it with him but this book really brought the reality of the situation, mostly in the Southern US, to life for him. He was plain outright flabbergasted at the "whites only" and "no coloreds" signs that were posted everywhere and everything that was actually involved with segregation. It was a real eye opener for him that a world like this once existed and we tried to imagine what it would be like for us today if we were out in the world with so many rules against what we were allowed to do and where we could go and he found it near impossible. He is glad that Canada is a free country and that we were a welcome destination for the slaves back in those days. (from previous studies) This book definitely made an impact on him and I personally was well pleased with it, also.
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. . . If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King
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