Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box is a poignant, true story about a boy named Michael who went with his granddaddy to vote in the civil-rights era segregated south. It’s the kind of family story that gets told and retold because it is filled with joy, excitement, pain, and inspiration.
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Michael lives on the farm with his grandparents, where he learns lessons about work and patience from doing chores and fishing with his granddaddy. He learns even more about patience when he goes with Granddaddy to vote. Granddaddy puts on his best suit. He will be the first in his family to vote. They wait in line at the town hall, while many white voters cut in line. Granddaddy’s excitement is extinguished when he’s given a literacy test and is turned away from the poll with his grandson looking on. Granddaddy dies before he gets a chance to vote. Years later, Michael votes with pride, carrying a photo of his granddaddy along with him.
As children read this book, they will learn about one family’s experience during the civil rights movement and why the 1965 Voting Rights Act was so necessary. What story do you have that is filled with emotion, pain, and inspiration that has been passed down in your family? How can you use it to teach your children about history and make it more personal for them?
Children can also learn about honoring the legacy of their grandparents and ancestors by continuing the honorable intentions that they had during their lives. Although Michael’s Granddaddy was not able to vote, Michael felt comfort in continuing his granddaddy’s desire to vote by doing so with great joy and pride when it was his own turn. We can do the same with our ancestors – by making what was important to them an important part of our own lives. We can remember them by doing the things they did. We can continue important family traditions in honor of their memory. How do you continue the legacy of a family member? What special traditions do you carry on that are meaningful to you?
My grandmother makes pickles from the cucumbers in her garden every year. This year, I had an enormous crop of cucumbers in my garden so I decided to call Grandma and ask for her pickle recipe to see if we could use them up. I was delighted to find out that the recipe had been passed on to her from her mother, Great Grandma Flossie! It’s even older and more tried and true than I knew.
Grandma told me that no store bought pickles compare to her own. Although she is in her 80s, she continues to make her own pickles every year because she just can’t stand any other kind.
So a couple weeks ago, although it was 6pm when we started and my new baby was only three weeks old, my husband and I made Grandma’s recipes for dill pickles and bread and butter pickles. I felt a sense of great pride continuing her legacy! I would not have been motivated to make them had it not been for her. It was the first time I had ever made Grandma’s pickles, but it won’t be the last.
Creating a Positive Family Culture: The Importance of Establishing Family Traditions – article by Brett & Kate McKay about the importance of connecting generations, creating lasting memories, and passing on cultural and religious heritage through family traditions
About telling stories with pain, emotion, and inspiration – my summary of Bruce Feiler’s RootsTech 2016 keynote and how to strengthen children through family stories
Teaching About the Civil Rights Movement with Picture Books – excellent discussion questions about voting rights in the civil rights-era south
Michael S. Bandy, author, talks about growing up in Alabama during segregation – a video about his book “White Water”
White Water – Another children’s book by Michael S. Bandy about segregation
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