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Color of Water

by James McBride  |  Grades: 10-12 

The Color of Water by James McBride Teacher Guide, Lesson Plans, Novel Unit

About The Color of Water by James McBride

The incredible modern classic that Oprah.com calls one of the best memoirs of a generation and launched James McBride's literary career.

Over two years on The New York Times bestseller list

Please don't be put off by its pallid subtitle, A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother, which doesn't begin to do justice to the utterly unique and moving story contained within this book.

The Color of Water tells the remarkable story of Ruth McBride Jordan, the two good men she married, and the 12 good children she raised.

Jordan, born Rachel Shilsky, a Polish Jew, immigrated to America soon after birth; as an adult she moved to New York City, leaving her family and faith behind in Virginia. Jordan met and married a black man, making her isolation even more profound.

The book is a success story, a testament to one woman's true heart, solid values, and indomitable will. Ruth Jordan battled not only racism but also poverty to raise her children and, despite being sorely tested, never wavered.

In telling her story--along with her son's--The Color of Water addresses racial identity with compassion, insight, and realism. It is, in a word, inspiring, and you will finish it with unalloyed admiration for a flawed but remarkable individual. And, perhaps, a little more faith in us all.

Reviews

"As lively as a novel, a well-written, thoughtful contribution to the literature on race."-- The Washington Post Book World

"James McBride evokes his childhood trek across the great racial divide with the kind of power and grace that touches and uplifts all hearts."--Bebe Moore Campbell 

A Biographical Note About James McBride

James McBride is an accomplished musician and author of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird, the #1 bestselling American classic The Color of Water, and the bestsellers Song Yet Sung and Miracle at St. Anna. He is also the author of Kill 'Em and Leave, a James Brown biography. A recipient of the National Humanities Medal in 2016, McBride is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.

Available Teacher Guides, Lesson Plans, Novel Units, and Activities for The Color of Water by James McBride: