Kid Lit Frenzy’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge is one of my favorite reading challenges.
Real-life married (and interracial) couple Sean Qualls and Selina Alko collaborated on The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage, a nonfiction picture book that tells the story of the landmark court case that finally legalized interracial marriage across the nation. Richard Loving was white, and Mildred Jeter was African-American. They lived in Virginia, where interracial marriage was against the law. Just across the state line in Washington, D.C., however, it was legal. So when they decided to marry, they simply traveled to D.C. to tie the knot. Back home in Virginia, they were soon arrested for “unlawful cohabitation” and spent time in jail.
After their arrest, they decided to move to Washington, D.C., where they could legally live together as a married couple, but city life ultimately didn’t agree with them. They missed Virginia and their families. They boldly decided to take their home state to court and challenge the law against interracial marriage.
Alko’s text tackles a complex story that may be challenging for children today to fully understand and appreciate. She explains history and the fight for civil rights clearly and sympathetically in language that even young children will be able to follow with a bit of support from an adult reader. This is one of those picture books that’s perfect for all age ranges. It’s an excellent mentor text for how to incorporate research and factual information within a narrative.
The artwork is also special: both Qualls and Alko work in paint and collage, and they collaborated on the illustrations. I loved the warm color palette in this book. It’s rare to find a bright, colorful palette used in a picture book about the fight for civil rights.
There is a personal Author’s Note at the back, sharing the story of how Alko and Qualls met and fell in love. Alko also draws parallels between the fight for interracial marriage in the 1960s and the fight for same-sex marriage today, reminding us that there are still important civil rights battles to be won. There is also a list of Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading. I wish a timeline had been included, as I wasn’t sure about the dates for some of the events described in the story. But that’s a minor quibble.