Little Rock Girl 1957 – Shelley Tougas

by on March 8th, 2012
Little Rock Girl 1957 – Shelley Tougas Cover Image

This nonfiction book, primarily aimed at upper elementary and junior high students, gives a quick, readable overview of the iconic American civil rights photograph of Elizabeth Eckford and the attempted integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

Tougas uses the first chapter to give a riveting account, with primary source dialogue, of what was to be 15-year-old Elizabeth’s first day of school at the newly integrated Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas.  She and eight other African-American students (now known as the Little Rock Nine) were to begin classes on September 4th, 1957, but when Elizabeth arrived she was alone and faced an angry mob of hundreds of protestors and armed National Guardsmen who barred her entrance.  The photo spreads and personal accounts are shocking albeit a bit emotionally distant due to the succinct text.

Being part of the Compass Point Books “Captured History” series, the book features large photos depicting the events of that day and the aftermath of this Civil Rights Movement struggle.  There is quite a bit of discussion about the iconic photograph taken by photographer Will Counts of white student, Hazel Bryan, shouting racial abuse at Elizabeth.  Readers will learn about the impact photojournalism has on the world and what it can feel like to be defined not only by your skin color but by a single photograph.

Short chapters with simple, effective sentences also allow tweens and teens to easily follow the developments of the integration battle in Little Rock, give a basic history of the Civil Rights Movement, and provide a “where are they now” of Will Counts and the Little Rock Nine students.  Tougas’ book gives us a good introduction to the topic and includes a list of further reading to help students know where to go for more detailed information.

One Response to “Little Rock Girl 1957 – Shelley Tougas”

  1. Thanks for making Little Rock Girl a staff pick. I’m touched! I don’t live far from Iowa City. Maybe we could arrange a reading or program. Thanks again.
    Shelley Tougas

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