This is the story of a young African-American boy who grew up in Indianapolis over a hundred years ago. Despite living at a time when African-Americans were often denied basic rights, Marshall Taylor became a world champion cyclist.
Marshall earned the nickname “Major” when he performed bicycle tricks as a very young boy dressed in a military style costume. When he was a teenager he stopped performing tricks and moved on to bicycle racing – and he was really, really good – world champion good! His story is inspiring because he persevered even when there were many people who didn’t want him to even be in a race, let alone win, just because he was African-American. Sometimes he rode fast just to get away from angry people chasing him! Author: Marlene Targ Brill
In Indianapolis, we have the Major Taylor Velodrome, a world-class bicycle racing track named for this cycling great. You can ride your bike and also use inline skates at the Velodrome. If you want to try riding there, it’s best if you are at least 10 years old. Call ahead and see if you can arrange a time to go try it out. And don’t forget your helmet! 3649 Cold Spring Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46222 Velodrome Phone: 317-327-8356
Claudette Colvin grew up in Alabama in the 1940s and 1950s. At that time, Jim Crow rules dominated her life. Jim Crow rules were designed to keep black people and white people separated. These are the rules that said black people could not eat in certain restaurants or sit in certain seats on a city bus. When Claudette was 15 years old she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person, so she was arrested. You’re probably thinking, no, that was Rosa Parks. It’s true, Rosa Parks did the same thing, but Claudette did it too! A lawsuit was filed on behalf of several people, including Claudette and Rosa, to end bus segration, and eventually, they won. Rosa is more well known, but Claudette was right there too, and she was just a kid! Reading her story helps you understand that it took lots of people, young and old, to change the Jim Crow rules. A lot of people were brave enough to stand up and say, “no more!”
This book includes interviews with Claudette herself, so you get the story straight from her. She talks about what it felt like to live with Jim Crow; to constantly be told, “you can’t”. When you hear a real person talking about it, it seems much more real than reading a plain description. Claudette was there and she can speak for herself. If you like reading about Claudette, try Marching For Freedom. That one tells the story of kids who marched in Selma, Alabama to help win black people the right to vote. It’s really good too and includes interviews with people who were kids back then and were actually there.
If you like Claudette’s story you might like finding out about a strong Hoosier woman who fought for her rights. When Indiana became a state in 1816, the constitution stated, “there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude.” In early 1816, Mary Bateman Clark, a slave in Kentucky, was sold and brought to Knox County, Indiana, as an “indentured servant.”
In 1821 Clark filed suit for her freedom. The Knox County Circuit Court ruled against Clark’s petition to end her indentured servitude. Clark appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court, which ruled that Clark’s status was clearly not voluntary. The court awarded Clark her freedom and in doing so set a precedent for freedom for other indentured blacks held in Indiana.
Indiana’s first black troops in the Civil War were enlisted in November 1863. More than eight hundred black men joined the Twenty-eighth Regiment. The regiment trained at Camp Fremont near Fountain Square in Indianapolis. The regiment is best known for its role in the siege of Petersburg, Virginia, where on July 30, 1864, it participated in the Battle of the Crater. In this battle, Union troops dug a tunnel under the Confederate fort at Petersburg, carried eight thousand pounds of explosives into the tunnel, and blew up the fort. When the war was over the soldiers returned to Indianapolis on January 6, 1866. The regiment lost 212 men in battle or as a result of disease.
Tuskegee Airmen were African-American pilots who flew in World War II. Before the Tuskegee Airmen, no African-American pilots had every been in the U.S. armed forces. They were the first and became highly regarded airmen. They are best known for escorting bombers. In this video you can watch some Hoosier airmen talk about their experiences during the war.
Reynie, Sticky, Constance and Kate are locked in, in fact they’re prisoners, but this time their captor is none other than Mr. Benedict himself, as well as Rhonda and Number Two. In order to keep the kids safe from Evil Ledroptha Curtain, the grownups have the kids stashed in a safe house. Ledroptha wants his evil Whisperer machine back and the grownups are sure that he would kidnap the kids in a second and hold them for ransom. The kids are safe…but bored out of their genius little minds!
Constance is extra cranky, especially after a stranger shows up claiming to be her father and challenging Mr. Benedict’s adoption of her. In an emotional meltdown, Constance runs away – an act that sends the grown-ups and the Society outside the safe house in hopes of finding her…just what Ledroptha and his minions The Ten Men want. The kids are now vulnerable and fall into a carefully constructed trap. But Ledroptha isn’t the only brain capable of setting and springing a trap. These kids are smart and motivated by something powerful – the desire to save the family they’ve built for themselves in The Mysterious Benedict Society. A terrific addition to The Society’s adventures. Author: Trenton Lee Stewart
Look InsideThe Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma
This book doesn’t have any chapters in it. It’s a collection of letters and notes with a few newspaper articles thrown in here and there. You have to figure out who is who and what is going on by reading the letters the characters write to each other and by reading the newspaper articles that report the strange happenings at 43 Old Cemetery Road.
Ignatius B. Grumply is a crabby old author with writer’s block who has rented a creepy old house for the summer. He doesn’t know it, but a boy named Seymour is living on the third floor and a ghost lives in the attic – a bossy old lady ghost.
The old man is none too happy when he discovers the boy. Seymour isn’t too happy about the old man either. The two set up a few house rules to keep things from getting ugly:
Mr. Grumply’s Rules:
You will not bother me when I am writing
You will stay out of my bedroom and bathroom at all times.
You will not lurk in doorways or dark hallways.
You are not permitted on the second floor, which I have claimed as my own for the duration of the summer.
You will not tell me what time I have to go to bed.
You will not tell me what to eat or when to eat it.
You will not play old man music on the stereo.
You’re not allowed on the third floor. No exceptions.
And this begins a tentative agreement to help the two get through the summer without all out war breaking loose. They agree to communicate by letter, which is fine, until the old man shoots some accusations at Seymour that are simply not true. The slamming doors, the loudly playing piano, the falling chandalier – none of that was Seymour, that was the ghost! Mr. Grumply doesn’t believe a word of it and he isn’t at all interested in having a liar for a housemate.
Read the letters to hear them duke it out in writing – the letters are funny exchanges between these people who don’t care for each other at all…at first! Author: Kate Klise Series: 43 Old Cemetery Road
If you liked Dying to Meet You don’t miss the other 6 in the 43 Old Cemetery Road series, and when you get done with those, try Billy Bones – he’s another ghost in hiding with a fun family. If you like how the story was told through letters try one of these: IndyPL Kids’ Blog Stories Told Through Letters