Scholastic has signed a three-book deal with civil rights pioneer Ruby Bridges, who in November 1960 proved her remarkable mettle at the age of six, when she became the first Black child to attend a New Orleans public elementary school. The first grader braved jeering protestors as U.S. marshals escorted her to the building and encountered persistent prejudice within the school walls, where she was kept isolated from the white students. Six decades after her harrowing journey, Bridges will pen three new picture books to bring her trailblazing story to a new generation of children who are also living in alarming times of racial tension.
Bridges, who now lives in New Orleans with her husband and sons, first told her story to young readers in Through My Eyes, an autobiography for middle-grade readers released by Scholastic in 1999, which received the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Bridges’s story was subsequently relayed in her Scholastic Reader title, Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story and in The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles and George Ford.
Scholastic will kick off its new Ruby Bridges program with I Am Ruby Bridges, a companion to Through My Eyes, scheduled for spring 2002 release. Due in 2023 are Dear Ruby Bridges: Letters from Kids Speaking up for a Better World, a compilation of letters from children that Bridges has received over the years; and A Talk with My Teacher, based on the relationship between Bridges and Barbara Henry, her first-grade teacher.
Ellie Berger, president and executive v-p of Scholastic Trade Publishing, noted the propitious timing of the acquisition announcement, given that Ruby Bridges Day, an annual observance of Bridges’ experience initiated in 2018 by fifth graders at San Francisco’s Martin Elementary School, takes place on November 14—the day of Bridges’s first day of school in 1960.
“We are honored to commemorate this anniversary by announcing that we are once again teaming up with Ruby Bridges to launch a new publishing program,” Berger said. “Ruby Bridges is a civil rights icon and inspiration, and her Through My Eyes remains a beloved gem on Scholastic’s backlist. Each of the three new books are core to Ruby’s mission of fighting bigotry and align with Scholastic’s commitment to equality—drawing on the remarkable framework that she has built over the last six decades. These titles will re-introduce Ruby to kids today and will be presented through her singular perspective, promising to serve young readers for generations to come.”
Andrea Davis Pinkney, Scholastic v-p and executive editor, underscored the ongoing relevance and importance of Bridges’s life story. “Ruby Bridges is a powerful storyteller whose civil rights legacy invites important conversations among children and adults,” she said. “Her books continue to shine a vital light on the children’s book landscape, bringing our shared mission of diversity and inclusion into sharp focus. Like all of her books, these new offerings will provide readers with the tools they need to speak with the kids in their lives about fostering racial harmony for people everywhere.”
In a fitting tribute to the author’s courageous actions, Bridges and Scholastic are honoring the author’s mother, Lucille Bridges, who died on November 10, 2020, by establishing the Lucille Bridges Trust, which will support youth who are inspired to continue the legacy of activism.
“I am very happy that Scholastic and I are continuing our 25-year journey together,” Bridges said. “In the hundreds of classrooms I have spoken in across this country, I’ve had the unique opportunity to see how a book can both educate and inspire our youngest minds. I often say that if we are going to make lasting change, it has to come from our young people. I look forward to bringing these new titles into the Scholastic portfolio as they believe, like I do, in the transformative power of storytelling.”