Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and his Green Book
Author: Keila V. Dawson
Illustrator: Alleanna Harris
Publisher: Beaming Books, 2021
Next month is Black History Month and this newly released selection by Beaming Books is an excellent choice for educating young readers. While there are many books on racial discrimination, Victor Hugo Green is not a well-known name. The approach makes the topic seem so fresh, so relevant, and brings the realities and difficulties of segregation and discrimination to light in a way that young readers can appreciate.
Victor Hugo Green was a mail carrier in Harlem. Although he loved to take road trips, travel was difficult for Black Americans. They weren’t allowed to stay in many hotels or stop at roadside restaurants. Often, they weren’t even allowed to use the restroom. Not only were they denied services, they could be in danger.
One day, Victor discovered a guide for Jewish people (who also faced discrimination at this time) that offered advice about businesses and resorts that welcomed the Jewish community. This gave him an idea. What if he wrote a guide for Black Americans, telling them of places where it was safe for them to go?
The guide, known as The Negro Motorist Green Book, was first published in 1936. It was 10 pages long and listed safe places for Black Americans visiting New York City. Over the years, Victor used his contacts among postal carriers to expand the area covered. By 1940, a national chain of gas stations began selling the Green Book.
Books like this make history interesting and personal. Although it is a picture book intended for ages 3-8, I wouldn’t be afraid to use it with older students. Beaming Books has an excellent educator’s guide.: https://ms.beamingbooks.com/downloads/EducatorsGuide_OpeningTheRoad.pdf
Be sure to check it out.
Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.