Six-Year-Olds Can Make A Difference

Catha Jaynes

Over the last several years, TCS parents have come together and started book clubs for the students in each grade level. There are several objectives in forming these book clubs.

    1. We want to foster reading for pleasure in our students.
    2. We want to promote thoughtful discussion among friends.
    3. We want to provide a social gathering that strengthens unity within the grade – for the kids and for the moms.*

These book clubs have also been a great place to introduce a diversity of great books in addition to the books provided on the TCS Treasury.

This February the first grade boys’ book club is reading and discussing The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles. It’s a true story that happened in New Orleans in 1960. Ruby Bridges was the first African American student to attend an all white elementary school in the south. As those of us with any knowledge of U. S. history know, this first step to integration in public schools did not go well. The white people in the community protested her attendance and even threatened her life. She was six years old, just like most of the boys in the first grade book club, and she had to be escorted into school by U. S. marshalls. The parents of white children refused to send their children to school. Only one teacher was willing to teach Ruby.

The story goes on to talk about how her family dealt with this unprecedented situation. They persevered. They sought prayer and support from their church. Ruby herself prayed twice a day for those opposing her.

Please God, try to forgive those people
Because even if they say those bad things,
They don’t know what they’re doing
So You could forgive them
Just like You did those folks a long time ago
When they said terrible things about You.**

Ruby never gave up. Eventually all schools in New Orleans desegregated, and Ruby went on to finish high school, got married, and had her own children. As an adult she began to see a need for bringing parents back into the schools to take a more active role in their children’s education. In 1995, Ruby launched her foundation to promote the values of tolerance, respect and appreciation of differences. ***

Ruby’s story is incredible. It’s important for our children to see that a six-year-old girl can make a difference. Who they are now matters. They don’t have to wait to grow up to do big things. Perseverance, courage, prayer, and relying on God’s strength can quite literally change everything.

We read and discuss these books to show our children a world outside themselves. We introduce them to the truth of history, even the ugly parts. We teach them to know the past so that we do not repeat it. We challenge them to keep doing better.

And like Ruby Bridges, as parents we see a need to have an active role in our children’s education. May we teach our children the same values that Ruby worked to instill.

*Natasha Tracy, TCS Board Member and Parent
**The Story of Ruby Bridges, by Robert Coles