by Nikki Giovanni

Other authorsBryan Collier (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2005





Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (2005), Edition: 1, 40 pages


The story of Rosa Parks and her courageous act of defiance. Provides the story of the young black woman who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger in Alabama, setting in motion all the events of the Civil Rights Movements that resulted in the end of the segregated south, gave equality to blacks throughout the nation, and forever changed the country in which we all live today. She had not sought this moment but she was ready for it. When the policeman bent down to ask "Auntie, are you going to move?" all the strength of all the people through all those many years joined in her. She said, "No." An inspiring account of an event that shaped American history. Fifty years after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus, Mrs. Rosa Parks is still one of the most important figures in the American civil rights movement. This picture-book tribute to Mrs. Parks is a celebration of her courageous action and the events that followed. Award-winning poet, writer, and activist Nikki Giovanni's evocative text combines with Bryan Collier's striking cut-paper images to retell the story of this historic event from a wholly unique and original perspective.… (more)

Media reviews

Rosa. Journal of Education, 2011/2012, Vol. 192, Issue 1
"A cooling breeze on a sweltering day; a sun-dried quilt in fall; the enchantment of snowflakes extending the horizon; the promise of renewal at spring" (Giovanni, 2005, p. 4). This is how the author, the first recipient of the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, describes the heroine of her book. Young readers will surely be inspired by the story of a remarkable woman whose act of civil disobedience precipitated the Montgomery bus boycott. The story begins with the description of a rather routine day: Rosa's mother recovering from the flu; her husband, a barber, working at the Air Force base; and Rosa hurriedly leaving her job as a seamstress as she thinks about preparing a meatloaf for dinner. These ordinary events make her extraordinary act of courage in standing against injustice even more remarkable. The events on the bus are described in detail, and her quiet refusal to give in to the demand that she give up her seat to a White passenger is in sharp contrast with the behavior of the bus driver who yelled, "I said give me those seats!" (p. 14) and the passengers who demanded that she be arrested. The story closes as groups of people who share her mission, including the Women's Political Council and the NAACP, mobilize to organize a bus boycott. Ultimately, the courage of these heroes, named and unnamed, led to the Supreme Court ruling that declared segregation to be unconstitutional. The rich watercolor and collage illustrations are captivating. The fold out pages that show those who walked, instead of riding the bus, and those who marched, capture how a number of people from all walks of life came together for the cause of Civil Rights. Many readers will notice how effectively Rosa is portrayed as the gentle hero of this story. In the illustrator's note, Bryan Collier writes, "to me, she is like a radiant chandelier, an elegant light that illuminates all our many pathways" (p. 4). In an interview about her book, Giovanni said, I've always liked the hero … I always liked the people that stood up, and Mrs. Parks had a particular stand that said, "You can make a difference. What you do can make a difference." And you do it with no expectation. And she always said that. Again, in my book, I'm not overly stressing that, but she always said she didn't know who, if anyone, would stand with her. She just knew that it was time for her to stand. (http: // Giovanni's statement reminds readers of the value of standing up for what is right even when we are unsure about the support we will receive from others. Rosa Park's dignified resolve continues to inspire and to set an example for future generations.
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Rosa Parks sat. “She had not sought this moment, but she was ready for it.” When she refused to move out of the neutral section of her bus to make way for white passengers, she sparked the Montgomery bus boycott. She was tired of putting white people first. Giovanni’s lyrical text and Collier’s watercolor-and-collage illustrations combine for a powerful portrayal of a pivotal moment in the civil-rights movement. The art complements and extends the text, with visual references to Emmett Till, the Edmund Pettus Bridge and Martin Luther King, Jr. The yellowish hue of the illustrations represents the Alabama heat, the light emanating from Rosa Parks’s face a shining beacon to all who would stand up for what’s right. A dramatic foldout mural will make this important work even more memorable. An essential volume for classrooms and libraries. (Picture book. 5+)
The text is accessible to young readers, but without sacrificing the complexity of the story, and the paint/collage illustrations by Bryan Collier are radiant.
It's easy to see why ROSA won both the Coretta Scott King Award and a Caldecott Honor -- the illustrations are spectacular. Bold yet detailed, they show Rosa Parks as she was -- not an old lady too tired to get up, but a strong young woman tired of oppression. In paintings that combine watercolor and collage, realistic images of people are set against slightly abstract backgrounds with skewed perspectives. The pictures radiate heat, light, and power. Poet Nikki Giovanni's text is at times preachy, however, and Parks is portrayed as perhaps more than a mere mortal -- at times Bryan Collier's art suggests a halo above her. Though the book is aimed at 4- to 8-year-olds, some of the story will go over their heads, and many things are unexplained. What is the NAACP? What happened to Parks after the police came? There is a vivid picture of a cop confronting her, but her actual arrest is not mentioned. And she virtually disappears from the book halfway through. Various news events, such as the lynching of Emmet Till and freeing of his killers, are mentioned but not explained; an author's note would have been welcome. These events can be used as openings for parents to discuss them in more detail with their kids, but the book on its own may be confusing. Still, this is a gorgeously illustrated introduction to a watershed event.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Kate13
Rosa is a fictional picture book. Even though it depicts real events it is still listed as a fictional book. It was written by Nikki Giovanni and was illustrated by Bryan Collier. This book takes place in the town of Montgomery, Alabama in the mid 1950s during times of segregation, when things were supposed to be “separate, but equal”. The book starts out telling a little bit about Rosa Parks such as some information about her family members and where she works. It is a very short story about how she got on a bus one day and ended up changing the world. I liked this book because it was based on history, but it presented it in an interesting way. I think for an event such as this that the pictures are very useful in telling the story. The issues discussed in the book are mainly about racism and segregation. Even though laws had been passed saying that everyone was equal, not everyone saw it that way. Segregation divides a nation…until someone decides that it’s time to change things. I would definitely use this book in my classroom. It is an effective way to teach a historical event and make it stick in the mind of the student. The students will notice the pictures first, then, since the book is written in story form rather than factual form, enjoy the reading as well. As previously mentioned, I really enjoyed this book for more reasons that one. It is an interesting read and presents the history in a form that is easy to comprehend. Segregation is wrong, and separate is not equal. Rosa Parks had the audacity to stand up for what she believed in and knew was right…do you?… (more)
LibraryThing member dc061140
This book illustrates the historic moment of Rosa Parks. Mrs. Parks was a black woman who was arrested because refused to give up her seat to a white person during the years of segregation. Her strong will to do what was right had a stong influence in the civil rights movement.

I like this book because it sums up a little piece of history. To some students, history is a boring subject to learn. This book was very well written and interesting. I always knew who Rosa Parks was but did not realized the lengths her friends went to support her. I do wish that the book would have told more about what eventually happened to Rosa, afterall the book was named after her. I guess I will have to find another book to answer that for me.

I would use this book in the classroom to show how people can accomplish things by supporting one another. Also, it is a good book to teach in black history month.
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LibraryThing member cmiller05
When Rosa Parks is told to move from the neutral part of the bus to the back of the bus, she takes a stand for what she believes is right. This ignites a movement to create social change; change known as the Civil Rights Movement.
LibraryThing member brandaman
Very good. I learned alot about Rosa Parks and the movement.
LibraryThing member kbuttry
This book is about the life of Rosa Parks and what she did to change segregation. It tells of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech and the Brown vs. Board of Education’s court case. It states what segregation is and why it is wrong.

This book was excellent! It would be great to read to a group of children for a history lesson. The pictures were fantastic and I enjoyed that it incorporated many famous African Americans into the story that helped change segregation laws with Rosa Parks.

For extension in the classroom, I would have the children read Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, the I Have a Dream speech, and state what their reaction to it is.
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LibraryThing member jhill06
Genre: Biography
Critique: It is a good example of a biography because of how Rosa Parks is a very famous figure in history due to her role in the civil rights movement. It is based on a true event when Rosa refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white man.
LibraryThing member Esus15
this books is a wonderful book about the girl who started it all, well didnt offically start it, but got a lot of poeple to take note of it. the pictures were done great and support the book to the end. it shows me a new side to the story that i didnt know was there.
LibraryThing member CollierStudy
This book is about Rosa Parks and how her one word, “No,” jumpstarted the Civil Rights movement. I was a bit disappointed to learn that the book was not as much about Rosa Parks as I thought it would be. The text is powerful for showing Parks’ role in igniting the Civil Rights movement, but it is not as much about her as is expected by the title. Collier’s illustrations, yet again, powerfully convey the mood of the time period. He also uses a lot of symbolism in the book. For instance, Parks’ face was much lighter than the rest of the people in the book because Collier wanted her to appear saint-like. This book would be appropriate for developing and fluent readers. For developing readers, it offers a brief introduction into the concept of civil rights and Rosa Parks’ role in this movement. If it is read to developing readers, it will require teacher-assisted discussion. Fluent readers would enjoy this book as well because they would have a greater understanding of Parks and the Civil Rights movement. This story has won the Caldecott Award and the Coretta Scot King Award for illustrations.… (more)
LibraryThing member mrs.mackey
"Rosa" is a book about the important events in Rosa Park's life. It tells of that history making day when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. It also explains how that day helped pave the future for African American rights and freedom.

This was a great book. It gives you more details on the story of Rosa Parks than I ever learned in history class. It gives more background and personal information. It shows how certain historical events tied in to each other.

I would read this book to my class after learning about desegregation. I would discuss with my students how they would have handled the situation. I would ask them if they thought her actions were justified and why they felt the way that they felt. I would want them to learn that although they may feel like their actions are unimportant, they can change history with one simple action.
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LibraryThing member renee.sutter
This book was written to pay respect to Rosa Parks and the other men and women who fought for civil rights. This is a book that transcends age groups. Though I would say it is geared towards someone who does not already have a great deal of information about Rosa Parks, yet it was enjoyable for me and I have read quite a bit about her. This is a very empowering story. It reinforced the ideas I already had about Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement. I have since a young age been very interested in the idea of social justice, the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, etc. In the classroom this would be a great book to read in conjunction with other books about civil rights.… (more)
LibraryThing member smilz23
This Coretta Scott King award winner and Caldecott Honor book tells the story of Rosa Parks as she refused to get out of her seat on a bus and and inspired the bus boycotts in Montgomery, Alabama. Collage looking artwork brings the characters to life.

Classroom connection: Could be used during a unit on civil right in a middle school social studies class. Or as part of Black History Month in an elementary school. Could also be used as part of a unit on Martin Luther King. As an award winner this is an example of an outstanding book and could be used to introduce the Caldecott award and the Coretta Scott King Award.… (more)
LibraryThing member maeganpollard
The books stars out with Rosa working as a seamstress having a good day at work. When Rosa gets off she walks to the bus stop to ride the bus. Back in this time blacks had to ride in the back of the bus or the neutral parts were some blacks were allowed to sit with whites. The back was full so Rosa sat in the neutral section. When a white man entered the bus he wanted Rosa to move and she wouldn't so the white man had her arrested. After she was released from jail Rosa and the community rallied and the Supreme Court finally ruled segeration on the buses or anywhere else was illegal.

I really like the pictures in this book. I also still believe some type of racism exsists today. My husband is black and when we go places peolpe still look at us funny like why are they with each other.

In the classroom, we could make a list of things we believe in and see how many of us believe the same things and how many of us believe in different things. We could also discuss what we would feel like if things were still like they were for Rosa Parks.
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LibraryThing member Bbanach
This book is about Rosa Parks. She was a black woman who was told to move to the back of the bus, and when she refused, she was arrested. The book talks about how every black and white person who supported Rosa walked to and from every place, boycotting the public transportation system for more than a year, before the injustice was righted in the supreme court.

I thought this book was very interesting. I learned new details about what went on during this time that i didn't know before.

We could have a lesson about laws, and how, years ago, a lot of the laws were not for the good of the people. I could have the children write laws that they would make if they were president.
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LibraryThing member ccondra
Gives another look into the life of Rosa Parks. Beautiful artwork.
LibraryThing member leighanngoodwill
Nikki Giovanni does an amazing job portraying the life of Rosa Parks. Rosa begins her day like any other. She makes her way to her job as a seamstress. At the end of the day when she is told to give up her seat on the bus for a white man, Rosa realizes how tired she is. She's not just tired from work, but tired from all of the inequality that exists. Therefore, she refuses to give up her seat. This simple act causes a powerful chain reaction and leads to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. A year after Rosa's arrest, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation was illegal. The story that Nikki Giovanni tells is unique and powerful.… (more)
LibraryThing member beserene
This picture book is one I have assigned for my Children’s Literature course. Nikki Giovanni, the author, is relatively well-known for her poetry and her children’s writings – particularly for her focus on African American history and culture – and here she has treated the subject of Rosa Parks’ famous moment on the bus with characteristic directness and respect. I think the watercolor and cut-paper collage illustrations – by Bryan Collier – give the historical moment a very personal feel, meshing neatly with Giovanni’s obvious desire to connect the reader with Rosa on a very human, individual level – the book’s first page, for example, begins in Rosa’s kitchen and depicts a warm family scene of the start of an ordinary day. I appreciate the touches of ordinary that this book includes – heroes of all shapes and moments must, above all, be relatable, and Rosa Parks here seems far more personable than the dry figure so briefly acknowledged by history textbooks – and, overall, I found this to be a great introduction to not only Rosa Parks, but also her significance to American history. It is truly only an introduction, however – Giovanni does seem to assume, in leaving several holes in the narrative and in the logic of the reactions to Parks, that this book will be just a piece in any child’s experience with this historical moment. I think it is a fair assumption to make, but parents and teachers who read this book with their kids should be prepared to provide some context and answer some questions.… (more)
LibraryThing member mistywood
Rosa written by Nikki Giovanni and illustrated by Bryan Collier
Rosa is the story of how Rosa Parks took a stand for what she felt was right.

I feel this is a good book to share. It tells a powerful story about the struggle for equal rights. It shows the courage of those who fought, and died, for what the felt was right and fair.

Extension Activity:

provide-- magazines, scissors, paper, and glue
Discuss how people are different and how people are the same. Have children look through magazines, cut out pictures of things they like (food, activities, books, bikes, etc...)and glue the pictures to paper. Have children explain why they chose the things they like, and see if their classmates chose some of the same things.
(can then graph choices to extend activity)

Extension Activity: fingerprints
use ink pad and paper, provide magnifying glass to look at prints. Are they the same, different?
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LibraryThing member catieanderson4
This book was decent. It was a little bit too long and my fourth graders seemed to get disinterested towards the end. I would have this book on a bookshelf for someone to pick up and read as opposed to as a book that I would read aloud.
LibraryThing member Junep
Grade 3-5–Rosa Parks's personal story moves quickly into a summary of the Civil Rights movement in this striking picture book. Parks is introduced in idealized terms. She cares for her ill mother and is married to one of the best barbers in the county. Sewing in an alterations department, Rosa Parks was the best seamstress. Her needle and thread flew through her hands like the gold spinning from Rumpelstiltskin's loom. Soon the story moves to her famous refusal to give up her seat on the bus, but readers lose sight of her as she waits to be arrested. Giovanni turns to explaining the response of the Women's Political Caucus, which led to the bus boycott in Montgomery. A few events of the movement are interjected–the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the aftermath and reactions to the murder of Emmett Till, the role of Martin Luther King, Jr., as spokesperson. Collier's watercolor and collage scenes are deeply hued and luminous, incorporating abstract and surreal elements along with the realistic figures. Set on colored pages, these illustrations include an effective double foldout page with the crowd of successful walkers facing a courthouse representing the 1956 Supreme Court verdict against segregation on the buses. Many readers will wonder how it all went for Parks after her arrest, and there are no added notes. Purposeful in its telling, this is a handsome and thought-provoking introduction to these watershed acts of civil disobedience… (more)
LibraryThing member jrozean0128
Rosa is a biographical story of Rosa Parks who refused to submit to the unfair practice of requiring African Americans to ride on the back of buses and to give up their seats to white people. The book details Rosa’s day including some of her thoughts as she contemplates whether to give up her seat to the white man or not.

The illustrations are what make this book truly a work of art. Of course the story has been told a number of times but the art work brings a certain aspect to the story that is quite unique. I am enraged by this book. I find it hard to believe that we let segregation go on for so long in our country.

This would be a great book for children to learn about segregation. I would have the children break up into groups such as blued eyed vs brown eyed then set up rules that oppressed a certain group. Such as, the blued-eyed children have to use the bathroom or water fountain down the hall and that the two groups can not play or interact with one another. Remember to not let this go on too long for it might upset some of the children. Another thing I would do would have the children create posters that remind us that segregation is bad and the treating others fairly is good and is a tremendous part of our American society. These posters could be displayed to remind the students to treat each other fairly.
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LibraryThing member janeyiaC
Rosa has a historical context about the Civil Rights Movement. This book would work well with grades 4th and 5th. There are two other historical events that happen during the civil rights movement, that i believe is important for students to know. After the reading, I would break up the class into two groups, both groups would look up information about one of the events that impacted the civil rights movements. After both groups are familiar with these events, they will talk about the events in class. The two events are The Brown vs. Board and Emmett Till. After both events are discussed we will have a group discussion on how Rosa, Brown vs. Board, and Emmett Till all interconnect with each other.… (more)
LibraryThing member loadedbs
I have read this book many times and it still touches me today. This is the story of a brave and wonderful African American women who stood up to the injustice of whites against African Americans. Her saying No became one of the most significant stands in the struggle of equality. This stand was so powerful it forced the Supreme Court to act.

The book shows that justice can be achieved if one is willing to go the distance. Even though she started out by herself it shows you are never alone in your struggles.

This would be great in teaching children about social values. Another good lesson is for kids to know that although they may feel alone, theirs always people who will help you.
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LibraryThing member rebecca401
The story of the courage of Rosa Parks is told with simplicity and power. The illustrations are striking. This is a story of a woman who had the courage to say "no". She was tired of taking abuse and tired of being treated like she didn't matter. She stood up for her own rights, and she stood up for the rights of people everywhere.… (more)
LibraryThing member K.Perez33
Review: Rosa Parks, the best seamstress in town, got done with work early and rode the public bus home. Rosa sat quietly waiting for her stop to get off when all of a sudden a small word “no” gets Rosa in trouble with the law. Her “no” became very well known throughout the town and then spread throughout the rest of the U.S.

Personal Reaction: I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it reminded me about the history that brought America to where it is today, and if it weren’t for some of the people who stood up for what they believed in then who knows where America would be today. The book was sad, but then again it showed great strength in one women who was tired of the segregation and it made me happy to remember that we still have some great people in this world. Also, the illustrations were great. They showed great emotion of everybody around and I could really feel how the felt.

Extension: I would use this book during black history month. And also when learning about the Civil Rights movement.
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LibraryThing member sonya337
Giovanni's portrayal of the character's personalities and success at creating connection and understanding makes for a wonderful story. Bryan Collier's illustrations complement the story. He uses watercolor and collage to recreate the scenes of Rosa's accomplishments. Each page had pattern, color, expression and creates mood. This book is a great way for younger readers to learn about African American history in America and appreciate equality and social justice.… (more)


Original language


Physical description

40 p.; 8.85 inches


043989994X / 9780439899949



Other editions

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni (Hardcover)
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