When Madeline over at Top Shelf Text began her online book group, Diverse Books Club, I knew her book suggestions would be good. I love how they have a monthly adult read and young adult/middle school read because it’s an easy way to introduce more diversity into my daughter’s life as well as mine. Considering the current world events, there is no better time for my daughter and I to have some more articulate discussions regarding our world views – the good, the bad, and the ugly. In what areas do we need to examine our beliefs and do better? How can we be a light in the darkness to spread love, not hate? Through narratives and character development, books offer a beautiful vehicle to more understanding and compassionate viewpoints.
Stella by Starlight is about an 11-year-old girl who lives in North Carolina during the 1930s. While the Ku Klux Klan’s presence has always been around, for the most part, their activity hasn’t been too prevalent. Late one night when Stella can’t sleep, she sees some Klansmen burning a cross near her home. Scared, Stella is quickly introduced to the ugly, hurtful, and terrorizing ways of the KKK. When she accompanies her father to town and witnesses the humiliation he is put through to register to vote, Stella determines she will also use her voice to speak truth. She practices her writing skills and self-publishes a little newspaper where she records her thoughts. (Click here to read the Goodread’s synopsis.)
Stella by Starlight was a beautiful book that I can’t wait to share with my daughter. Stella’s family and friends are role models in the way they handled themselves in the face of such disturbing behavior. They were calm, peaceful, and kind. They didn’t match hate for hate and never lashed out to the white people in the community. Yes, I understand they didn’t have that privilege because they would have been beaten and/or murdered on the spot. But as a parent, I always try to find ways to demonstrate love in the face of hate, peace in the face of chaos, and compassion in the face of bigotry. I don’t always find myself as successful as Stella’s mom and dad, but I appreciate a book that demonstrates the compassionate response when hate would be so much easier and understandable.
Books – especially middle school books – are such an excellent tool for teaching. Stella by Starlight highlights many topics that I will use to engage meaningful conversations with my daughter. A huge thank you to Madeline and her crew at Diverse Books Club for starting the conversation and providing the resources to help us all navigate towards a kinder, more compassionate, world.