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March 2015 / Bronx/​Riverdale Family / Brooklyn Family / Long Island Family / Manhattan Family / Queens Family / Staten Island Family / Columnists / The Book Worm

Prisoners of love

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The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage” by Selina Alko, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko, is an important book for children — and adults — who are too young to remember Loving v. Virginia.

Falling in love was very easy for Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter, and it didn’t take long for them to decide that they wanted to get married.

But there was one problem: Richard was white. Mildred was “colored.” They didn’t think that was a big deal, but in Virginia in 1958, it was illegal for them to get married.

So Mildred and Richard went to Washington, D.C. and tied the knot there. The Lovings “couldn’t wait” to start their new lives back home.

Not long after they were back in Virginia, though, the police came in the middle of the night and said that the Lovings’ marriage certificate was no good. They put Richard and Mildred behind bars.

In order to stay out of jail for good, Richard and Mildred had to move to another state.

In Washington, D.C. again, the Lovings tried to settle in. Richard got a job. Mildred had three children. But the city wasn’t a good place for the Lovings. They missed their families. They weren’t happy, so nine years after that late-night visit by the police, they hired lawyers to fight for the right to live in their beloved Virginia.

“The Case for Loving” is a very informative, eye-opening book. Author Alko says in her notes that, as a Jewish white woman, she finds it “difficult to imagine” that her marriage (to illustrator Qualls, an African American) might have been illegal 50 years ago. Kids might find that notion to be almost “unbelievab­le,” too, given that they’ve never known a world like the one described here.

What parents will want to understand, however, is this: for its 4-to-8-year-old target age group — particularly for those on the younger end — this book could be scary, especially the jail part.

Still, if you’re prepared to explain and you keep the youngest audience members in mind, this could be a great read-aloud book.

“The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage” by Selina Alko [40 pages, 2015, $18.99].

Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was 3 years old, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill with two dogs and 12,000 books.

Posted 12:00 am, March 25, 2015
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