The Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and Dramatic Story of Prudence Crandall and Her Students by Suzanne Jurmain

Summary: Gr. 5-8. Jurmain has plucked an almost forgotten incident from history and has shaped a compelling, highly readable book around it. In 1831, Prudence Crandall opened a school for young white ladies. When asked by an African American teenager if she might join the class, Crandall, whose sympathies were with the abolitionists, agreed. So begins a jolting episode in which Crandall turned her school into one for girls of color, and is both tormented and sued by the citizenry of Canterbury, Connecticut, who wanted no part of African Americans in their town. Writing with a sense of drama that propels readers forward (and quoting the language of the day, which includes the word nigger), Jurmain makes painfully clear what Crandall and her students faced, while showing their courage as they stood up to those who tried to deter them. Printed on thick, snowy stock and including a number of sepia-toned and color photographs as well as historical engravings, the book's look will draw in readers. Children will be especially pleased by the appended material, which includes an epilogue that tells what became of the principals, as well as source notes for the many quotes. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Classroom Implications: What's great about this nonfiction text is that it's about desegregation but takes place in a northern setting! Students often read about desegregating schools in the South during the civil rights movement. But this book takes readers back to the 1800's in New England. This book is a nice transition from nonfiction picture books and nonfiction reading students engage in during high school. Therefore, this books is a perfect nonfiction read for the middle grades.


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