Author brings 1960s to life for Beechview Elementary students

On Friday, April 13, Claudia Whitsitt visited Beechview Elementary School in Farmington Hills to discuss a series of children’s books that she authored with the theme “Kids Like You”.

Author Claudia Whitsitt meets some of her biggest fans at Beechview Elementary School. (Farmington Public Schools)

Whitsitt focused on a book inspired by true friendship, Between The Lines. It’s the story of three girls who become friends during the racially-charged aftermath of the 1967 Detroit Riots.

Setting the tone, Whitsitt showed students pictures of what life was like back in the 1960s – images of traditional telephones, hairstyles, small homes, small televisions, stay-at-home mothers, and a nation fueled by social tensions and civil rights. She also discussed the book’s characters.

In the story, Hattie Percha is crushed when the riots start on her 10th birthday. Forced to move away from her treasured childhood home and friends, she attends public school for the first time, afraid her life is over. Then, she meets Beverly Jo Nichols, her first black friend, and Crackers, a fearless tomboy.

Despite opposition from Hattie’s mother and a racist teacher, the unlikely friends join forces. As the self-proclaimed Dream Girls, they challenge bigotry and intolerance, willing to do whatever it takes to hold onto what’s most precious to them all, their friendship.

Whitsitt grew up in Detroit during the Detroit Riots. She is a retired special education and consultant/writing teacher and full-time author/publisher.