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Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation, Written and Illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

by Cindy H | Mar 13, 2017
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Separate is Never Equal is based on the true story of the Mendez family and the little-known but landmark court case of Mendez v. Westminster in which the Mendez's, a Mexican-American family, fought for the right of their children to attend the same school as white children in their area. The story opens with Sylvia Mendez starting at her new school for the first time. She is harassed by a white student who tells her to, "Go back to the Mexican school! You don't belong here!" She goes home to tell her mother she is upset and doesn't want to attend the integrated school, and her mother reminds her that they fought hard to integrate the school so she could attend. The rest of the story provides the background of their struggle, including filing a lawsuit, and the court case that eventually led to integration.

This book is very inspirational and I think it could help children understand the struggles of minorities to achieve equal rights. It is disturbing at times to hear the blatant racism expressed by some of the people in the story, but the message is very powerful and important, and I think this book could be a great jumping off point for discussions on race, discrimination, and acceptance.

This book has won many awards and is recommended for children ages 6-9. It is available at your local library branch in print, on DVD, or on Hoopla and Overdrive as an e-book. Click the picture of the book's cover to place on hold!

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  • Cindy H is a librarian and pet mother. She loves all kinds of books but the Harry Potter series will always be her favorite.

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