Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement through Children's Books
Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Children’s Books on view through July 3 is the first of its kind to delve into the historic events, people, and themes of the civil rights movement as told through picture books. Visitors can see more than 80 artworks on view—ranging from paintings and prints to collages and drawings—by 41 artists. Picture the Dream evokes the power and relevance of an era that shaped American history and continues to reverberate today.
When the exhibition opened in Atlanta in 2020, it marked the anniversary of several key events from the civil rights movement. In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Five years later, Ruby Bridges integrated her New Orleans elementary school, and four black college students catalyzed the sit-in movement at the segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.
These historic events and more are explored in the exhibition with titles by established children’s book authors and artists as well as talented newcomers. Picture the Dream emphasizes children’s roles as activists and tells important stories about the movement’s icons, including Parks, Bridges, Congressman John Lewis, Ambassador Andrew Young, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The exhibition is organized into three thematic sections: the first, “A Backward Path,” explores the forces that sparked the civil rights movement, the second, “The Rocks are the Road,” features the movement’s key players and events, and the final section, “Today’s Journey, Tomorrow’s Promise,” presents stories about the reemergence of activism in contemporary America. From Brown v. Board of Education and the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the March on Washington and Black Lives Matter, the picture books’ topics bridge the past and present, emphasizing how historical moments and leaders continue to inspire the struggle for equal rights today. Also on view is a short documentary film that expands on the stories behind the illustrations. Through historical footage and a series of compelling interviews with authors, illustrators, and activists, viewers gain a comprehensive look at the faces of the movement as well as the artists who visualize history in the pages of picture books.
Andrea Davis Pinkney, a New York Times-bestselling author and Coretta Scott King Book Award winner, guest curated the exhibition. Also a publisher and editor at Scholastic Inc., Pinkney has written numerous celebrated fiction and non-fiction books for children and young adults. “Working with the creative teams at the High and The Carle on this exhibition has underscored the power picture books have in reaching readers of all ages,” said Pinkney. “Through an immersive tapestry of images and ideas, the artworks in Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement through Children’s Books take viewers by the hand and guide them through times of bravery and triumph. It’s an honor to collaborate on this experience that delivers a front-row seat to the dramatic events that continue to shape our world.”
“Great picture books prompt great conversations,” says Alexandra Kennedy, executive director at The Carle. “What better way for parents and teachers to introduce the difficult history of civil rights than through stories about the people who fought for equality? We believe the powerful illustrations in Picture the Dream will inspire visitors of all ages to ask hard questions and look anew at issues of equity and justice.”
Here are a few of the books featured in the exhibition:
- Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
- Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly, illustrated by Laura Freeman
- A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
- If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks written and illustrated by Faith Ringgold
- My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King III, illustrated by A.G. Ford
- Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment by Parker and Jessica Curry, illustrated by Brittany Jackson
- Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton, illustrated by Raul Colón
- I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Members’ Virtual Gallery Talk with Andrea Davis Pinkney
March 18, 2021
Free for Members Join Carle trustee, children’s book author, and guest curator Andrea Davis Pinkney for a virtual gallery tour of the exhibition Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement through Children’s Books. The first of its kind, the exhibition features the conditions, people, and events that led to the civil rights movement, and addresses questions about equality in our current time. Open to Museum Members; Visit carlemuseum.org to register.
Virtual Gallery Talk with Andrea Davis Pinkney
April 22, 2021
7:00 pm General public
Join Carle trustee, children’s book author, and guest curator Andrea Davis Pinkney for a virtual gallery tour of the exhibition Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement through Children’s Books. The first of its kind, the exhibition features the conditions leading up to the Civil Rights Movement, highlights key voices and events, and addresses questions about equality in our current time. Visit carlemuseum.org to register.
About the Museum
The mission of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, a non-profit organization in Amherst, MA, is to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books. A leading advocate in its field, The Carle collects, preserves, presents, and celebrates picture books and picture-book illustrations from around the world. In addition to underscoring the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of picture books and their art form, The Carle offers educational programs that provide a foundation for arts integration and literacy.
Eric Carle and his wife, the late Barbara Carle, co-founded the Museum in November 2002. Carle is the renowned author and illustrator of more than 70 books, including the 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Since opening, the 43,000-square foot facility has served more than 800,000 visitors, including 50,000 schoolchildren. The Carle houses more than 12,000 objects, including 8,500 permanent collection illustrations. The Carle has three art galleries, an art studio, a theater, picture book and scholarly libraries, and educational programs for families, scholars, educators, and schoolchildren. Bobbie’s Meadow is an outdoor space that combines art and nature. Educational offerings include professional training for educators around the country and Master’s degree programs in children’s literature with Simmons University.
When to visit
The Museum’s hours are Thursday and Friday, 10am-4pm, Saturday 10am-5pm, and Sunday 12pm-5pm. The Museum is closed Monday through Wednesday. Visitors are encouraged to reserve tickets in advance, choosing a morning or afternoon visit. (Walk-ins will be welcome as space permits.)
To ensure the health and safety of all our visitors and staff, all visitors must follow Massachusetts guidelines, which include masks, social distancing, and the current travel order.