The First Step
How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial
The inspiring story of four-year-old Sarah Roberts, the first African American girl to try to integrate a white school, and how her experience in 1847 set greater change in motion.
Junior Library Guild Selection
2017 Orbis Pictus Honor Book
Chicago Public LibraryKids Best of the Best Book 2016
A Nerdy Book Club Best Nonfiction Book of 2016
An NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book of 2017
In 1847, a young African American girl named Sarah Roberts was attending a school in Boston. Then one day she was told she could never come back. She didn't belong. The Otis School was for white children only.
Sarah deserved an equal education, and the Roberts family fought for change. They made history. Roberts v. City of Boston was the first case challenging our legal system to outlaw segregated schools. It was the first time an African American lawyer argued in a supreme court.
These first steps set in motion changes that ultimately led to equality under the law in the United States. Sarah's cause was won when people--black and white--stood together and said, No more. Now, right now, it is time for change!
With gorgeous art from award-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis, The First Step is an inspiring look at the first lawsuit to demand desegregation--long before the American Civil Rights movement, even before the Civil War.
Backmatter includes: integration timeline, bios on key people in the book, list of resources, and author's note.
Praise For The First Step: How One Girl Put Segregation on Trial…
"An important exploration of the struggle for equality and education in this country." - starred review, School Library Journal
"With Lewis’s stirring watercolors that astutely capture the emotion of history, this book is an eloquent, inspiring reminder that 'the march toward justice is a long, twisting journey.'" - The New York Times
"An excellent and careful telling of a lesser-known landmark case in the Civil Rights movement . . . E.B. Lewis’ watercolors add to the story and help readers feel the resolve and confidence of the people involved . . . would certainly add to a discussion on civil rights with older students and help them understand that there were many players in the civil rights journey and that each step was built upon the past. Highly Recommended." - School Library Connection
"Goodman’s real achievement here, though, is in the end matter, in which she not only expands on the lives of the major players but also talks at length of her research process and the educated guesses she made to fill in Sarah’s reactions. Although the first impulse will be to put this story to curricular use in civil rights units, this could be of excellent service as an investigation into how a history book gets written." - BCCB
"A stirring and inspiring story, this one is an excellent addition to classroom and library bookshelves." - Bookpage
Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 9780802737397, 40pp.
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
About the Author
E. B. Lewis won the 2005 Caldecott Honor Book for Coming On Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson and the 2003 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, for Talkin' About Bessie by Nikki Grimes. Mr. Lewis teaches illustration at Philadelphia's University of the Arts. He lives in Folsom, New Jersey.