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Every month, TAB editor Kristin will be sharing her thoughts on five titles from our… Read More

June 1, 2016

Remembering Jackie Robinson

In 1947, on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, Jackie Robinson broke the sport’s color barrier by going to bat for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The date of that courageous act, April 15, is now recognized as Jackie Robinson Day. Umpires, coaches, and players wear Robinson’s number, 42, in his honor, reminding fans across the country of the role he played in ending segregation and creating a more equal society.

When I think about Jackie Robinson, the first thing that comes to mind is one of my all-time favorite children’s books, In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord. It tells the story of ten-year-old Shirley, who emigrates from China to Brooklyn in 1947. With no knowledge of English or of American customs, she struggles badly to fit in at her new school.

Shirley gains some acceptance from her classmates when discovers the joys of stickball and stands up to a bully during a game. Then she learns about the Dodgers and the challenges faced by their star first baseman, Jackie Robinson. Robinson becomes Shirley’s personal hero, and her class—a multicultural group of kids—unites around the fortunes of the Dodgers.

In Lord’s novel, baseball—and Robinson, particularly—are symbols for what the United States is capable of at its best. As Shirley’s teacher, Mrs. Rappaport, explains it:

“In our national pastime, each player is a member of a team, but when he comes to bat, he stands alone. One man. Many opportunities. For no matter how far behind, how late in the game, he, by himself, can make a difference. He can change what has been. He can make it a new ball game.…

“This year, Jackie Robinson is at bat. He stands for himself, for Americans of every hue, for an America that honors fair play…

“Jackie Robinson is making a difference. Jackie Robinson has changed what has been. And Jackie Robinson is making a better America.”

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson is available in the Lucky 3rd Graders June flyer and online.


About the Author: Morgan is a copywriter for the Scholastic Reading Club flyers and website. Though she lives in Brooklyn, she has never played stickball.

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