Kent State

You are new here
and we don’t want to scare you away
but we want you to know the truth
so we will start by telling you what is most important:
They did not have to die.

An astonishing reckoning with the events of May 4, 1970, told in many voices at many angles, to better reach the very human truth of what happened and to show that underneath every tragedy we must find a call to action.

Published by: Scholastic Press
Pages: 148
ISBN-13: 978-1338356281
Published by: Scholastic Press
Buy the Book: Amazon, Indiebound

Overview

  • Starred Review: Kirkus

Imagine:
You are a student in America
You are a student in America.
Or maybe you are just walking to class.
The National Guard is called onto your campus.
Imagine you are a young Guardsmen.
The protest grows stronger.
So does the confusion. The chaos. The fear.
The Guardsmen opening fire.
Imagine this is your school.
Imagine this is your town.
Imagine this is your country.
Imagine American troops firing on American students.
Imagine the four students who died.
No. Remember the four students who died.
Because all of this happened.
On May 4, 1970, at Kent State in Ohio, all of this happened.
Now we need to talk about it.
Because if we don’t talk about it, it will happen again.

Deborah Wiles’s KENT STATE is an astonishing reckoning with the events of May 4, 1970, told in many voices at many angles, to better reach the very human truth of what happened and to show that underneath every tragedy we must find a call to action.

Praise for Kent State

Kirkus Starred Review:
A free-verse treatment of the killing of four college students during campus protests over the Vietnam War.College campuses were often flashpoints in the struggle against the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. In May 1970, protestors at Kent State University in Ohio were met by the Ohio National Guard, culminating in the deaths of four unarmed college students and injuries to nine others. The university and the small town surrounding it were all affected by the escalating tensions and disagreement over how to handle the issues. The governor’s strict approach was welcomed by some but resisted by many on campus. Each of the deceased students is described in detail, including how they came to be in the line of fire. Readers hear from a guardsman and a town resident as well as students, their voices showing how perspectives differed depending on individuals’ roles. Especially compelling are the words of black students, many of whom stayed away from the demonstration, believing, correctly, that the guardsmen had live ammunition. The structure serves to re-create the taut atmosphere of the days leading up to the tragedy, and various perspectives are represented by different fonts and typeface, furthering the sense of polarization. The extensive author’s note extends the narrative, engaging readers in the author’s process and the story’s impact. A well-researched and deeply moving portrait of an iconic moment in U.S. history. (Verse novel. 12-18)

Resources

Author resources for teaching KENT STATE are at Pinterest (https://tinyurl.com/tcvl3rj)
The Playlist is there, as well as photo resources, bibliography, and primary sources used to create KENT STATE.

Excerpt

You are new here
and we don’t want to scare you away
but we want you to know the truth
so we will start by telling you what is most important:
They did not have to die.