Tuesday, March 19, 2013
The Baptism by Shelia P. Moses
Readers follow along as Leon weaves a story about the time when he and his twin brother, Luke, are now twelve and old enough to be baptized. This is a coming-of-age tradition is his community, and one that Leon isn't sure he's ready for. In his matter-of-fact voice, the reader learns of the racial prejudice Leon and his family live with daily, and the many injustices African-Americans faced. For me, it's difficult to fathom having to live with the fact that your father was murdered and nothing done to seek justice simply because the victim was black or, knowing that the white man who owns the land you sharecrop is a half-brother of your mom, a relationship that is never acknowledged publicly.
This isn't a book I would recommend for the average middle school reader, frankly because I don't know that they would fully grasp the difficulties of this life. I think it would be an excellent story to use as a starting point for discussions about the life of African Americans and the importance of the civil rights movement.
Because it's a story where there's no great conflict or mystery to grab the reader's attention at the start, I'm not sure how many 11-13 year olds would be drawn to The Baptism. I do think it's one I'll recommend some teachers use as a read-aloud to lead to discussions. C+ rating.