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The Help

Fiction and nonfiction books, CDs, and films selected for this Reading Map to compliment The Help by Kathryn Stockett cover the American civil rights experience primarily from the 1930s through the 1970s.

Fiction With Similar Themes

We Are All Welcome Here
Elizabeth Berg
Set in 1964 in Tupelo, Mississippi, Paige Dunn is a single mom determined to raise her daughter, Diana, even though Paige is paralyzed from the neck down and requires mechanical help to breathe. Helping her is a loyal, fiercely protective and sharp-tongued black caregiver named Peacie.

The Summer We Got Saved
Pat Cunningham Devoto
Tab and Tina Rutland are sisters coming of age in Alabama in the 1960s. One is proud of her relative’s involvement in the Ku Klux Klan while the other is too interested in makeup and boys to be concerned with history or politics. But when their aunt from California visits and takes them on a trip, they become aware of events going on in the Civil Rights Movement.

Five Smooth Stones
Ann Fairbairn
First published in 1966, this story has continued to captivate readers with its wide-ranging yet intimate portrait of an America sundered by racial conflict. David Champlin is a black man born into poverty in Depression-era New Orleans who makes his way up the ladder of success, only to sacrifice everything to lead his people in the Civil Rights Movement. Sara Kent is the white girl who loves David from the moment she first sees him, and who struggles against his belief that a marriage for them would be wrong in the violent world he has to confront. And the “five smooth stones” are those the biblical David carried against Goliath. By the time this novel comes to its climax of horror, bloodshed, and hope, readers will be convinced that its enduring popularity is fully justified.

Four Spirits
Sena Jeter Naslund
Set in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960s, Stella is a college student observing the racial violence in her city. Ultimately moved to action, she decides to teach African-American high school dropouts with far-reaching consequences. Historical figures blend with fictional characters in this historically accurate story.

Freshwater Road
Denise Nicholas
In the summer of 1964, 19-year-old Celeste Tyree travels from Michigan to Mississippi. There she helps to register voters and witnesses the kind of poverty and racism that caused her father to originally leave the South.

The Way Forward Is With a Broken Heart
Alice Walker
In this collection of short stories, Walker writes about relationships with husbands, friends, lovers, and family members across generations, including writing about her ten-year first marriage to a white civil rights lawyer. She also writes about coming of age in a racist society.

 

Biography

Malcolm X: The Last Speeches
Malcolm X  305.896073 X

To the Mountaintop: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Sacred Mission to Save America, 1955-1968
Stewart Burns  323.092 BUR

Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders
Eric Etheridge  OVERSIZE 323.092 ETH

Make It Plain: Standing Up and Speaking Out
Vernon E. Jordan   323.092 JOR

Quiet Strength: The Faith, the Hope, and the Heart of a Woman Who Changed a Nation
Rosa Parks  323.092 PAR

First Class Citizenship: The Civil Rights Letters of Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson  796.357092 ROB

On the Bus with Rosa Parks: Poems
Rita Dove  811.54 DOV

James Baldwin: Artist on Fire: A Portrait
William J. Weatherby   818.5409 BAL

The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
Annette Gordon-Reed  973.46092 GOR

Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision
Barbara Ransby  B BAKER

W.E.B. DuBois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963
David Lewis  B DUBOIS

Coretta Scott King: A Biography
Laura T. McCarty  B KING

To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells
Mia Bay  B WELLS

 

The Civil Rights Era

At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68
Taylor Branch  323.1196 BRA

Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63
Taylor Branch  323.1196 BRA

Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65
Taylor Branch  323.1196 BRA

 

The Civil Rights Movement

She Would Not Be Moved: How We Tell the Story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Herbert R. Kohl  323.092 KOH

An American Insurrection: The Battle of Oxford, Mississippi, 1962
William Doyle  323.11 DOY

Partners to History: Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and the Civil Rights Movement
Donzaleigh Abernathy  323.1196 ABE

The Children
David Halberstam  323.1196 HAL

On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail
Charles E. Cobb  323.1196073 COB

The Shadows of Youth: The Remarkable Journey of the Civil Rights Generation
Andrew B. Lewis  323.1196073 LEW

We Had Sneakers, They Had Guns: The Kids Who Fought for Civil Rights in Mississippi
Tracy Sugarman  323.1196073 SUG

Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement
Patricia Sullivan  973.0496073 SUL

A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution
David A. Nichols  973.921 NIC

 

Racism

Walter White: The Dilemma of Black Identity in America
Tom Dyja  323.092 DYJ

Devil’s Sanctuary: An Eyewitness History of Mississippi Hate Crimes
Alex A. Alston  323.1196 ALS

At the Elbows of My Elders: One Family’s Journey Toward Civil Rights
Gail Milissa Grant  323.1196 GRA

Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South
323.1196 REM

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
Richard Wormser  323.1196 WOR

When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America
Ira Katznelson  323.1196073 KAT 

Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution
Diane McWhorter  976.1 MCW

We Are not Afraid: The Story of Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney and the Civil Rights Campaign for Mississippi
Seth Cagin  976.2063 CAG

 

CDs

Sing for Freedom [sound recording]: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs
CD 781.6213 SIN

Voices of the Civil Rights Movement [sound recording]: Black American Freedom Songs, 1960-1966
CD 781.6213 VOI

 

Audio Books

Where Did You Sleep Last Night? [CD]: A Personal History
Danzy Senna  AUDIO BOOK 306.846 SEN

April 4, 1968 [CD]: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Death and How It Changed America
Michael Eric Dyson  AUDIO BOOK 323.173 DYS

The Fire Next Time [CD]
James Baldwin  AUDIO BOOK 325.26 BAL

Life Beyond Measure [CD]: Letters to My Great-Granddaughter
Sidney Poitier  AUDIO BOOK 791.43028092 POI

 

DVDs

The Two Nations of Black America [DVD]
305.896073 TWO

Been to the Mountaintop [DVD]
323 BEE

Voices of Civil Rights [DVD]
323 VOI

King [DVD]: Go Beyond the Dream to Discover the Man
323.092 KIN

Leaving Cleaver [DVD]: Henry Louis Gates Jr. Remembers Eldridge Cleaver
323.1196 LEA

To Form a More Perfect Union [DVD]: Milestones of the Civil Rights Movement
323.1196073 TO

The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till [DVD]
323.1196073 UNT

Little Rock Central [DVD]: 50 Years Later
379.263 LIT

Citizen Tanouye [DVD]
940.5404 CIT

Murder in Mississippi [DVD]
DVD MUR

 

MC/TS 2/10