Jackie Robinson, An Inspiration

Jackie Robinson was an American hero, and his influence lives on in the many books which have been written about him. One of the most acessible ways to learn about Robinson is through children's literature. Below, we provide reviews of some well-known books involving the life of Jackie Robinson.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson

by Bette Bao Lord

Plot Summary: Shirley Temple Wong and her mother travel from their home in China to meet her father in America. When she arrives in New York, she must adjust to a new language, new culture, and new friends. Suffering through piano lessons, babysitting, and learning English, Shirleyís life is brightened by the discovery of baseball. She becomes an avid fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and especially of Jackie Robinson. She follows their race for the pennant, and on one lucky day, gains a chance to meet her hero.

Historical Accuracy: Fairly accurate, since the focus is on Shirley rather than Robinson.

AgeLevel: An enjoyable read for any age, approximately third grade reading level

Thank You, Jackie Robinson

by Barbara Cohen

Plot Summary: Sam Green is a baseball fanatic, and his favorite team is the Brooklyn Dodgers. No one he knows loves baseball as much as he does, besides the cook in his motherís hotel, Davy. An unlikely friendship develops between the old black cook and the lonely boy, as together they follow the progress of their beloved Dodgers. When Davy becomes seriously ill, Sam puts his trust in Jackie Robinson to come to the rescue.

Historical Accuracy: Sam quotes many games of the Dodgers, play by play, which is not central to the story, and hard to trace in accuracy. However, the key historical facts surrounding Robinson's career and life are correct.

Age Level: Approximately fourth grade reading level.

Jackie and Me

by Dan Gutman

Plot Summary: Joe Stoshack is having a rough time during this baseball season. Insulted by a player on an opposing team, he gets suspended from the league indefinitely. When he learns that he has to do a report for Black History month, he has no clue who to study. However, Joe has a remarkable ability to travel through time using baseball cards, and he decides to go back to the forties to meet Jackie Robinson.

Historical Accuracy: Gutman does a very good job keeping the details of his story accurate. He also provides a note at the end of the book explaining the areas in which he took liberty with the facts for the sake of the story, such as moving the dates of occurences, or changing the name and personality of a minor character. He also provides a brief biography of Jackie Robinson. The historical interest is heightened by the photos from the time period which are included in the narrative.

Age Level: Approximately fourth or fifth grade reading level, but a fun read for any age.

Other Books by the Same Author: Honus and Me, Babe and Me

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