The High’s New Exhibit ‘Picture The Dream’ Showcases Civil Rights Movement Through Children’s Books

“Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down” tells the history of lunch counter sit-ins.

Andrea David Pinkney and Brian Pinkney

Explaining history to young children is not easy when that history is filled with struggle and violence.

Coretta Scott King award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney has written numerous books about African Americans for children and young adults, including award-winning picture books illustrated by her husband Brian Pinkney.

Andrea Pinkney, along with Virginia Shearer, co-curator for The High Museum’s new exhibit “Picture the Dream: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Children’s Books,” joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom.

The exhibit will be on display Aug. 15 through Nov. 8, then it will go on to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art from Feb. 7 through May 30, 2021.

Interview Highlights

On the inspiration behind the exhibit:

“Children’s picture books are probably the best vehicles for sparking conversations with parents, young people about complicated issues … I can sit with a child, we can look at the pictures, and we can have the visual story of civil rights in a way that you don’t get in other kinds of books,” said Pinkney.

On her book “Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down”:

“Those illustrations are telling their own stories. So if a kid never reads the words, they can look at  those pictures and experience an emotional reaction or attachment to what is happening. The musicality (of the text) brings the kids into the narrative and allows them to experience some of the complexities of what happened on that day in 1960.”

Why it’s important to open the exhibit at this point in time: 

“For ‘Picture the Dream’ to be opening at this historic moment, it could not be more relevant. It speaks to the power of literature to foster those conversations and that journey,” said Pinkney.