The Borning Room by Paul Fleischman

It never ceases to amaze me what time does to our perspective. I was about 10 when I read Paul Fleischman’s “The Boring Room” for the first time and I remember always feeling like it was an incredibly long book. So much time passes between the pages, starting with Georgina’s birth in her family’s borning room, a small room off of the kitchen where life cycled in and out as babies were born while others went into the room to die. So I was floored when I recently pulled this book off of my bookcase and discovered it was an incredibly slim volume, only 100 pages.

Narrator Georgina starts her story at the beginning. That is, her birth, on a small farm in Ohio a few years before the start of the Civil War. Through her life we, as readers, get to witness those events that shaped America’s history, such as slavery and the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and the Women’s Suffrage movement. Even World War I is mentioned briefly near the end. In his book, Fleischman also brings up topics not often discussed in children’s books, such as the abolitionists, atheism, and women’s rights. Turns out, this book that I had so loved as a child, is much more complex than I ever remember it being, and I have to credit Fleischman for trusting children enough to expose them to these very grown-up ideas.

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