While reading both "The Story of Ruby Bridges" by Robert Coles and "Through My Eyes" by Ruby Bridges, it occurred to me that the illustrations beautifully illustrate both a firsthand account and a secondhand account of the story visually. George Ford beautifully illustrated the Robert Coles story while actual photographs were used to illustrate the Ruby Bridges autobiography. For this lesson, we will compare and contrast the firsthand photographs and the secondhand illustrations used in each of these books.
To begin our lesson, we will review the similarities and differences between the two accounts we have read in previous lessons on Ruby Bridges. I will then ask the students to take a close look at the illustrations in the two books. What are the similarities and differences between the two?
Coles, R. (1995). The Story of Ruby Bridges. New York, NY : Scholastic Inc.
Bridges, R. (1999). Through My Eyes. New York, NY : Scholastic Inc.
After we have discussed the similarities and differences between illustrations and photographs in both stories on Ruby Bridges, will take a closer look at some of the illustrations in "The Story of Ruby Bridges" by Robert Coles. The first illustration we will examine more closely is on the third and fourth pages of the book. This illustration shows Ruby's mother tucking her children into bed. I will ask the students to take a close look at the picture and try to figure out what the illustrator, George Ford, was trying to convey through this picture. I will ask the students to write down on a sticky note, the messages, feelings, or ideas the illustrator was trying to convey with the reader through this picture.
Once the students have written down their ideas, I will have them stick the sticky notes on a giant sticky note that I have placed around the room. (I have placed one giant sticky note for each illustration we're examining more closely.)
We will then repeat this process for the following illustrations in the Robert Coles book. The Bridges at church on the seventh and eighth pages of the book, Ruby walking to school on the ninth and 10th pages of the book, Ruby alone in the classroom on the thirteenth and fourteenth pages of the book, and Ruby with her teacher on the fifteenth and sixteenth pages of the book.
After we have hung all the sticky notes for this activity, we will do a gallery walk and talk about the ideas, feelings, and messages that were conveyed by the illustrator in these photographs.
Once we have taken a close look at the illustrations in the Robert Coles book, I will ask the students to take a closer look at the illustrations of Ruby walking to school pass the mobs on the ninth and tenth pages of the Robert Coles book and compare and contrast that with the actual photographs of the mobs Ruby had to endure on her way to school each day. These photographs are found on pages fourteen and eighteen of "Through My Eyes" by Ruby Bridges.
I hope that the students come to see the parallel on their own, that the illustrations are like a secondhand account of a situation, while the photographs convey more feeling and detail as a firsthand account of what took place. Just as a firsthand account of a story contains more detail and feeling. The other point I hope is made clear is that even though the illustrator did a beautiful job of conveying meaning and feeling through the illustrations, the photographs actually take you there and give you a firsthand experience as the reader.