Insects can be striped like Newsbee, wasp-brown like Wanda and jet-black like Bob the beetle, my bud. But all have the right to bee—“The Right to Equality.”

Fifty years ago, in January 1963, the Civil Rights Movement began in Birmingham, Alabama. Courageous African Americans, and their supporters, began fighting for equal rights. Read about what contributed to the movement in these inspiring Picks.

Youngest Pick

Pictures tell the touching tale of “Unspoken, A Story of the Underground Railroad” by Henry Cole, a previous Book Buzz favorite. Cole’s life-like drawings pack a wallop of emotion in this wordless book.

A farm girl sees Confederate soldiers approach during the Civil War and wonders what they’re doing on her family’s property. After they leave, the child gathers potatoes and turnips in a shed when she sees a wide eye peering at her from a bundle of cornstalks in the corner. Terrified she runs to her house, but says nothing to her family. Instead she secretively takes a dinner roll from the table, wrapping it in a napkin when no one’s watching.

Though her family has no idea what she’s doing, the courageous girl acts from her heart, creating a bond between two people separated by age and race. “Unspoken’s” text may be silent, but it’s message rings loud and clear in a book sure to be revered.

Middle Pick

Alex visits Gee’s Bend and is shocked to see a mule eating greens in a garden. While he’s pondering the odd sight, an elderly African American lady takes a seat on a bench next to him. Miz Pettway is the storyteller in “Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend, a Civil Right Tale,” by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud, a picture book chocked full of history.

The boy learns why Belle is special. She, and others in her breed, earned respect back in the 1960s when African Americans from Gee’s Bend, Alabama, didn’t have the right to vote. The late Dr. Martin Luther King came to town and urged the people to take the ferry across the river and register, which they did. But when it came time to cast a ballot, the white sheriff shut the ferry down so they couldn’t.

His hateful act didn’t stop them. They hitched mules to wagons and went around the river. Ol’ Belle helped out and later did too, in a most important way, at a solemn ceremony for Dr. King in our nation’s capital.

Oldest Pick

Hanging Moss, Mississippi is changing in 1964—Freedom Fighters, bent on improving life for “coloreds,” clash with those determined to keep things status quo. Dissention descends like a heavy fog, the conflict trickling down on Glory, the main character in “Glory Be,” by Augusta Scattergood.

Glory, about to turn 12, doesn’t believe the rumors her best friend Frankie spouts. He says the community pool is going to close in the heat of the summer. That can’t happen. Glory is planning a swimming party there for her birthday. But Frankie knows what he is talking about because his dad is on the town council.  He, and a lot of other people, won’t hear of “the coloreds” swimming in the “white pool.” Glory doesn’t understand all the fuss and talks to the family’s maid Emma, an African American lady who’s like a mother to Glory and her big sister Jesslyn, since their real mom passed.

Lately, Jesslyn and Glory’s relationship has been strained. The 15 year-old won’t have anything to do with Glory. Jesslyn just moons over her boyfriend, someone she sees unbeknownst to her dad—a boy Glory is sure isn’t right for her. Or is he?

The summer of ’64 is a time of turmoil, of growing up for both sisters in this marvelous book about the effect that integration has on a small town and its citizens in the Deep South.

Reprinted with permission. Missourian Publishing Company. Copyright 2013.