“New Shoes” By Susan Lynn Meyer

When her brother’s hand-me-down shoes don’t fit, it is time for Ella Mae to get new ones. She is ecstatic, but when she and her mother arrive at Mr. Johnson’s shoe store, her happiness quickly turns to dejection. Ella Mae is forced to wait when a customer arrives after her and is served first. Ella Mae is unable even to try on the shoes because of her skin color. Determined to fight back, Ella Mae and her friend Charlotte work tirelessly to collect and restore old shoes, wiping, washing, and polishing them to perfection. The girls then have their very own shoe sale, giving the other African American members of their community a place to buy shoes where they can be treated fairly and “try on all the shoes they want.” Set in the South during the time of segregation, this stunning picture book brings the civil rights era to life for contemporary readers.

-Description from Amazon.com

About the Author

Meyer received a master’s degree in English literature at UCLA and then went on to receive a Ph.D. at Yale. Meyer is now an English professor at Wellesley College outside Boston and an award-winning author of two books. She writes literary criticism as well as children’s books. She also teaches courses in Victorian literature, American literature, and creative writing. Source: http://susanlynnmeyer.com.

Pre-Reading and Read Aloud Tips

  • Create a historical time-line of events capturing important civil rights moments during the 1950’s to present day.
  • Use the information in the back of the book to provide a context of the story.
  • Introduce the book and talk about the author, title and cover illustrations.
  • Stop frequently and ask higher order questioning skills: Compare & contrast, argue, defend, and judge.
  • Set the tone for classroom discourse surrounding civil rights and social justice.
  • Always stop periodically and ask a prediction question like “What do you think will happen next?”

Additional Information

  • Winner of the Jane Addams Peace Association Children’s Book Award
  • A Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Multicultural Book
  • An Illinois Monarch Award Reader’s Choice Master List Book

To view the additional honors NEW SHOES has been awarded, visit http://susanlynnmeyer.com.

“Highly recommended; both a revealing glimpse into one aspect of America’s institutionalized racism and inspiration for kids to create their own change.” -kirkusreviews.com

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