Mississippi Bridge by Mildred D. Taylor

In the story, Mississippi Bridge Taylor exhibits an exceptional picture of what life was like in the 1930’s in the state of Mississippi. The description of racism that Black families and individuals had to suffer through was horrific. Conflict of the story; character versus character which is underneath the overwhelming conflict of character versus society. During a rainstorm a bus is filled with black and white men and women; until the bus is too full for the remaining white people to come aboard. The bus driver rudely removes (some physically) the last black people from the back of the bus to seat them. The bus filled with white men, women, and children adventure off across the Rosa Lee Creek. The bus spins out and falls in the creek. The black people who were removed from the bus on their way home were the first to jump in the creek to save and recover the white people.

The main character and narrator of this story, 10-year-old, white boy, Jeremy Simms. The remainder of the characters are supporting characters with various roles in relation to the main character Jeremy. Lilian, sister; R.W., older brother; Melvin; Store Owner, Mr. Wallace; Former Teacher, Miz Hattie, Miz Hattie’s granddaughter, Grace-Anne; Jeremy’s Father, Pa; alongside many bus riders.

The main themes of this book is discrimination and racism. Shown by the people in this Mississippi town and being discovered and grappled with by the narrator, 10-year old, white Jeremy. Taylor uses the narrator to tell the story as he experiences the events that take place around him. Taylor chooses to use the speech of the South to help the reader understand the characters. The repetitive use of the word, nigger is harsh however, it is the correct word that black people were called in this time and place. The racism and hatred toward black people in the South. The placing of black people as second class citizens that are forced to sit in the back of the bus.

This book rates five out of five. After getting past the overuse of the word, nigger, I could identify with the ten-year-old Jeremy Simms and is ability to grapple through the racism around him. I would tread carefully with sharing this with students with the use of the “n” word; although this depicts this time in America extremely well.

The three ways that I may use this book in the upper elementary classroom are as follows: Guided Reading, Vocabulary Building, and QAR.

     Guided Reading – Each day before reading describe the events that are occurring and          assist the students to put words to their feelings. Give them questions to assist them in            their reading passage.

     Vocabulary Building- There are a lot of idioms in the book. Taking time to define                these phrases to assist the students in their understanding.

     QAR – Ask literal questions students can pull from their reading, use questions that will        allow students to pull in text from several areas of the book and think about the context          and meaning of the book, further thinking by asking questions based on the book and              what the student believes, and ask students their personal ideas on the themes of the               book.

I read this book as a part of my #BookaDay Reading Challenge, inspired by Donalyn Miller. My goal is to read at least one children's literature book every weekday and share my thoughts here on my blog. Please feel free to subscribe or connect with me on social media to follow my journey through the books I read. Until next time ...

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