Standing Up By Sitting Down

Happy MLK, Jr. Day. In Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down, Andrea Davis Pinkney's portrayal of the Greensboro Four of the 1960s, they sit at a counter waiting to be served. Peaceful and polite, the four friends weren't breaking any laws. In fact, they even used manners when they ordered their coffee and donuts with "cream on the side" at that Whites-Only restaurant. Segregation laws not only kept them from being served, but also resulted in them being ignored. Sit-ins were significant to the Civil Rights Movement, and many of them resulted in cruel, violent acts. But not this one. These four boys remembered Dr. King's message:  We must meet violence with non-violence.

The ten-step "recipe for integration," a Civil Rights Timeline, a photograph of the Greensboro Four in Woolworth's, a more in-depth look at the incident and times, and book and website resource recommendations at the book's end serve as a bonus for our 21st century learners, who might have difficulty understanding and/or relating to the injustice of segregation.

Have you ever staged a sit-in? My son Jacob led one while he was in his Social Studies class during sixth grade. It was empowering. Not only did he feel listened to, but he also felt heard. I distinctly remember him coming home that day, certain that he'd convinced the Principal to make the changes that he and his friends had peacefully negotiated. What are the hot topics that your students wrestle with at school?  In Jacob's case, he was asking for Meaningful Movement Mondays. In a nutshell, I think his group wanted more recess. But it was a really good strategy by his teacher (YAY Mrs. Appel!!) to get her students thinking about how to bring about change. Coincidentally, we now celebrate SPARK day on the first Monday of every month to encourage teachers to intentionally infuse meaningful movement and wellness tips into their lessons. Use this book to spark a discussion about socially-acceptable ways to help students become change agents in their world today.


  1. Thanks for sharing a new and very powerful sounding book! I love finding out about new books, especially ones that have meaning :) Have a happy rest of your day!

    Lisa :)
    Made In The Shade In Second Grade

  2. Seems like a great read with a great lesson! Thanks for sharing!

    ❤ Mor Zrihen from...
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  3. I've been using this book with my fifth graders for a few years now. It is very powerful, and they love seeing the actual photograph in the book of the four men. Also, they always notice that the server at the lunch counter is African American, which always sparks some really interesting discussion. We then play the Violent/Non-violent MLK game from the Marco book Year Round Guidance Games and discuss definitions of violence.

  4. I love that your son staged a peaceful protest. A young man in our district (Grade 12 -- he went to our elementary school) staged a very peaceful protest (whole-school walkout) last year to bring attention to the "falling apart" conditions of our local high school. There was lots of media attention, and as a direct result of this protest, there is now a new high school being built. The plan was already there, but you know how long it takes for anything to happen. This boy's protest completely sped up the process.
    Thanks for sharing another great book.
    Grade ONEderful

  5. Barbara.... thanks for linking this resource up to our blog hop over at my blog-house, "RainbowsWithinReach."

    It's helpful for teachers to recognize how many resources are available to address significant issues.



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