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The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  37,554 ratings  ·  2,690 reviews
The Newbery Honor-winning American classic, The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 , celebrates 20 years with this anniversary edition featuring a special letter from Christopher Paul Curtis and an introduction by noted educator Dr. Pauletta Bracy.
Enter the hilarious world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. There's Momma, Dad, little
Paperback, 210 pages
Published December 12th 2000 by Laurel Leaf (first published January 1st 1995)
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I stayed up super late finishing The Watsons Go to Brimingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t tell you how artful I thought it was… well, let me try.

First, I have a big problem with history (so much so that it is truly embarrassing) and I always have had this problem —I need to know the people and stories behind the events to remember anything. I also have a big problem with reading historical fiction. It often seems so “fixed”—--"Tell some story arou
Stephanie Brown
The plot is simple: 10-year-old Kenny (the narrator) has a loving family: a mom and dad, a little sister (Joetta), and a big, tough brother (Byron). Byron starts getting into typical teenage trouble. Kenny's parents decide to take the family on a road trip to visit grandmom in Alabama. They figure she can straighten Byron out with some old-school discipline.

During the family's visit, a church is bombed and 4 little girls are killed (taken from the historical Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that
When my 10 year old says, "Mom, you HAVE to read this!" and checks my progress, it melts my heart. I'm only a few pages in, but I'm wondering why my 5th grade teacher didn't offer great books(or any for that matter) for us to read!

This truly is YA. It's full of adolescent antics, lights up the importance of family and told the story of an incident that happened in Birmingham '63. It's an important read for kids and provided the opportunity to talk about the Civil Rights Movement.

My favorite part
Kael Markham
The Watsons go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis is a historical fiction book. In this novel, Kenny and his family live in Flint, Michigan. His brother, Byron, has not stopped acting up and Kenny's Momma and Dad do not know what to do with him. They then come to an agreement to go down to Birmingham, Alabama where they were going to stay with Kenny's grandma for awhile, then leave Byron there for the summer. On their trip, in the car they would listen to their ultra-glide and they se ...more
Connor Bray
The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 A historical fiction By Christopher Paul Curtis. In this novel 'The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963', tells about a family that consist of Kenny, Byron, Momma, Dad And joey the girl. This story was about a troubled kid named Byron who finally goes overboard and is sent to live with his strict grandmother named Grandma Sands in Birmingham, Alabama during the civil rights movement when segregation was still a big thing deep down south. Through their ups and downs so ...more
Adam Wilson
Mar 08, 2013 Adam Wilson marked it as to-read
This is the only other novel I have read by Curtis and I enjoyed it even more than Bud, Not Buddy. I did not have to read this one in school so I had to track it down myself. I remember listening to the audio version at age eleven or twelve and loving the Watsons and all of their random adventures. The first incident, the one where the elder brother gets his lips stuck to a car mirror in winter because he was kissing his reflection, is one of my favorite moments in fiction so far. The brothers t ...more
The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 is a great historical fiction book to read the author of this book is Christopher Paul Curtis. The book shows you what it was like to be in an African American family in 1963 of the southern and northern parts of America. I for one loved The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 I thought it was really funny at some parts but really sad at other parts. I don't have a brother and I got to see what it was like having an older brother. My favorite part of the book was d ...more
Samantha Houser
The book called The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis is a historical fiction book. The setting of this novel is placed in the year of 1963. The characters are Kenny, who's point of view it is told by, Byron, his older brother, Joey, his younger brother, and his parents, Daniel and Wilona. They live in Flint, Michigan but they go to Birmingham for a while. The main plot is that Byron is such a bad behaving kid, a juvenile delinquent that his parents decide to take him to B ...more
This was the first novel written by this author, and though I liked it, I liked his Bud, Not Buddy, especially its narratorial voice, more.

Though most of this story is told in a lighthearted way as we learn about this family, the beginning was almost hard for me to read with its matter-of-fact depiction of the bullying that the narrator and his friend receive, as he wonders why bullies are the ones who can be so funny. The ending is exquisite as it depicts the narrator's mental state after a tr
Gabe Thompson
I gave the historical fiction novel The Watsons go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis a four star rating.
This novel takes place in Flint, Michigan-1963 and also switches back between Birmingham, Alabama. My favorite character in the novel is definitely Kenny, who is the narrator. I like that the story is told by a ten year old boy because it comes from such a different view point. Kenny's brother Byron is a 13 year old juvenile delinquent in this novel and he begins the being very imm
I just can't recommend The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963. While the book can be pretty funny and the Weird Watsons are a tight-knit, pretty-darn-average family filled with support and love, it also meanders and at times even plods. I'm surprising myself to say this (because I rarely say this about any book), but I actually found it pretty boring.

The episodes, or vignettes, have the feel of the Jean Shepherd-inspired film, A Christmas Story (and some of the scenes seem borrowed from the film--t
Rashika (is tired)
A list of thoughts upon reading this novel.

1. I love children's lit and middle grade.
2. I love my teacher for making us read this book.
3. I love this fucking book.
4. Kids are mean.
6. The Watsons are the best.
Cassidy Mcmaster
The Watsons Go to Birmingham- 1963 is a historical fiction by Christopher Paul Curtis. Kenneth Watson is a 10-year-old boy in Flint, Michigan. The Watsons Go to Birmingham tells the story of Kenny and his family (Momma, Dad, Joetta, and Byron). Byron is officially a juvenile delinquent but Momma and Dad want to change that. They decide that they're going to Birmingham, Alabama for a week to visit Momma's mom, Grandma Sands. But when they leave Birmingham,they're going to leave Byron there for th ...more
This is probably my favorite book of all time. It had every element that I love in a book. It was hilarious with great descriptions, and at the same time it was powerful and thoughtful.
Emily Lang
This book is a historical fiction novel called The Watsons go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. This story takes place throughout the Wastons journey from Flint, Michigan, to Birmingham, Alabama. The main characters are the brothers, Kenny and Byron. The story is about how Byron keeps getting into trouble in Flint so Momma and Dad decide to have a road trip down to Birmingham, Alabama, the most segregated city in the country. This is an amazing book! My favorite part was when the c ...more
In a historical fiction, The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis. I rated the book five stars. In the story The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963, out main characters are a boy named Kenny and his older brother Byron. They live in Flint, Michigan and Byron is a juvenile delinquent. He sets fires and does things he is not suppose to do. Momma threatens to send him to Alabama for the school year if he does not clean up his act. But Byron still does things he is not suppose to, ...more
Hiram Alexander
We read this book in our eighth grade ELA class with Mrs. Castillo. At first I was kind of 'eh' about the book but as we read it, I found that I was wrong and that the book was really good! The way the humor ties into the book is so real as well as the racism and struggles of an African American family. This book is really great and I recommend it to everyone who likes to know a bit about history with a touch of fiction tied into it. I really like the book and it's just a really great read and I ...more
Diamond Riddick
The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963
Book Review

Reading about the weird Watsons is no joke. Ok maybe it is. They stay funny and calm during their hard situations. Overall I give this book 4 stars. It is an attention grabber throughout the entire book.

The book is very relatable, and gives strong family values. First, is Daniel Watson the dad, he is the breadwinner, and a fun loving father. Second, is Wilona Watson the mom, She runs the household. Joetta is the youngest and only girl. She cares
I would highly recommend this book to students and adults alike. This book was above all, a very funny read. The summary of the novel does not prepare you for the fact that about 60% of the book takes place before the family even leaves to go on the road trip to Birmingham. While there is no shortage of funny situations, the majority of the book is just that—recounting the funny things that go on between siblings and parents within a family—situations that do not always fit clearly into the plot ...more
Nick Hicks
The Watsons are a loving, funny family who live in Flint, Michigan in the early 1960's. When the oldest brother, Byron, continues down the path to trouble, his parents decide to take him to stay with his strict grandmother in Birmingham, Alabama. The entire family goes on the long trip, and while they are in Birmingham, a church is bombed, killing several children. Kenny, the middle child, is traumatized by what he sees, and takes a while to recover, with the help of his big brother, Byron.
Book Concierge
From the book jacket: Enter the hilarious world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. There’s Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron, who’s thirteen and an “official juvenile delinquent.” When Momma and Dad decide it’s time for a visit to Grandma, the Watsons set out on a trip like no other. They’re heading south to Birmingham, Alabama, toward one of the darkest moments in America’s history.

My Reactions
I love the way Curtis writes. I totally be
One of those books I read in middle school and it stayed with me enough that when I saw it on the shelf yesterday, I picked it up and re-read it for the first time in 15+ years. I liked the parents a lot more on this read which shocked me. It's weird when you go back and read books you've read as a kid and think "huh. These parents are pretty cool" but with this book they totally were. I loved the bit in the beg when the dad was telling the kids how he saved them from being born with a lumpy hea ...more
I read The Watson's go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis, a historical fiction novel set in Michigan and Alabama in the 1960s. The Watson's live in Flint, Michigan in 1963. Byron is the oldest and Kenny is the middle child and Joetta is the baby. Byron gets into a lot of fights and hangs out with the thugs in the neighborhood. Momma thinks it would be a good idea if By went to spend the summer with Grandma Sands in Birmingham, Alabama. The whole family decides to take a vacation. Th ...more
Tanisha Maru
The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis is a historical fiction book set in the 1960s. This book is narrated by a little African American boy named Kenny. IT is about the mishaps that occur in hi s childhood, some of which lead to going to Birmingham. His brother Byron is described as a juvenile delinquent and is not very friendly. The actions that Byron take like getting a conk, bullying kids, skipping school, etc. make his parents take the drastic decision to have him stay ...more
Feb 04, 2015 Didi rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of Middle-Grade with African-american characters
This was an interesting story about the Watson family. It's filled with realistic anecdotes of an African-American family living in Flint, Michigan. The focus of the story is between 2 brothers and their arduous relationship. All this takes place in 1963 with the back drop of the civil Rights movement. It's a wonderful story to get kids to talk about family life, siblings, and of course to talk about racism and the Civil rights Movement.
Kiann Khamphouy
I read the historical fiction, The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis. In Flint,Michigan, Kenny, and his family, the Weird Watsons, plan to go to Birmingham,Alabama. Kenny is a 10-year old boy with a 13-year old juvenile delinquent brother,named Byron, and a little sister, named Joetta. When Momma Watson gets fed up with Byron's misbehavior, she decides to go to Birmingham and Byron will stay there the whole summer or until he starts behaving. Momma plans every single thi ...more
Wilson Hutton
I gave the book The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis a rating of 4/5 stars. I really liked this book because I have done research on "Bombingham" and I really understood the main plot. I also really felt that I could kind of relate to the Watson family. I just wish that they would've included more information about "Bombingham" because I felt they left out so many important events on the subject. But all in all this was a great book and one of the few books that I hav ...more
I'm going to date myself here -- I was 3 when the The Watsons went to Birmingham in 1963. Our country was in a state of transition and chaos between the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. I learned quite a bit from this wonderful book about this time, and it was from a different perspective than my own circumstances. Blacks were subject to prejudice, President Kennedy was assassinated in November, and people were protesting the war. Hippies were finding peace and love on communes and at ...more
Katie Mccue
This novel is about the Watson family who live in Flint, Michigan in 1963. The novel is told from the perspective of the main character Kenny. Kenny has a little sister Joey, and an older brother Byron who is a juvenile delinquent. Byron gets into a lot of trouble so his parents decide to send him to Birmingham to live with his Grandma for the summer of 1963. This book describes the events leading up to the family trip to Birmingham and also the situations that they face while they are in Birmin ...more
Jennifer Moss
I had figured that I would use this book in my LA book club unit on the Civil Rights even before I read it. Unfortunately it wasn't what I thought it would be. The story is a much better book for character development than it is for historical fiction. The protagonist is well written and very believable. Students will relate to the antics of the family and neighborhood kids described by Curtis. They will also connect to the bullying issues. I was disappointed though in how long the reader has to ...more
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Curtis was born in Flint, Michigan on May 10, 1953 to Dr. Herman Elmer Curtis, a chiropodist, and Leslie Jane Curtis, an educator. The city of Flint plays an important role in many of Curtis's books. One such example is Bucking the Sarge, which is about a fifteen year old boy named Luther T. Ferrel, who is in a running battle with his slum-lord mother. Curtis is an alumnus of the University of Mic ...more
More about Christopher Paul Curtis...
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“There's one good thing about getting in trouble: It seems like you do it in steps. It seems like you don't just end up in trouble but that you kind of ease yourself into it. It also seems like the worse the trouble is that you get into, the more steps it takes to get there. Sort of like you're getting a bunch of little warnings on the way; sort of like if you really wanted to you could turn around.” 18 likes
“Wow. Who would want a fish for a pet when they could have a turtle?!” 11 likes
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