Jackie's Bat by Marybeth Lorbiecki, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Rachel Walker Cogbill, a retired teacher, was attracted to Reading to End Racism as an organization because it combines a topic she finds immensely important and continuing her time with children in the classroom.
She read the book Jackie’s Bat in Berlin, Cabot, and Union Elementary schools to third and fourth graders. The book is the story of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball, as seen through the eyes of his bat boy. The students discover how the characters’ prejudice is changed to acceptance and admiration in the story as the characters get to know Jackie Robinson.
Activity: Rachel, who brought her Louisville Slugger bat with her, began her activity by acting out some examples of racism in Vermont, and she asks the children what they have studied about racism, and then has them try to imagine what it would be like to have some of their examples (like not being able to use the same drinking fountains) happen in their school. They learn how hard it is to break the color barrier, and the link is made to President Obama’s being the first African-American president. Many of these points are brought out by the students themselves as they write down a few thoughts and then share them in a group discussion. Students take home their paper to share with their families. Rachel takes home her Louisville Slugger bat.