Ruth and the Green Book

  • Interest Level: Grade 2 - Grade 5
  • Reading Level: Grade 3

The picture book inspiration for the Academy Award-winning film The Green Book

Ruth was so excited to take a trip in her family’s new car! In the early 1950s, few African Americans could afford to buy cars, so this would be an adventure. But she soon found out that Black travelers weren’t treated very well in some towns. Many hotels and gas stations refused service to Black people. Daddy was upset about something called Jim Crow laws . . .

Finally, a friendly attendant at a gas station showed Ruth’s family The Green Book. It listed all of the places that would welcome Black travelers. With this guidebook—and the kindness of strangers—Ruth could finally make a safe journey from Chicago to her grandma’s house in Alabama.

Ruth’s story is fiction, but The Green Book and its role in helping a generation of African American travelers avoid some of the indignities of Jim Crow are historical fact.

Format Your Price Add
Available at all major wholesalers and distributors. Save 25% off list price on hardcovers and ebooks when you buy direct! Digital purchases will be accessed on Lerner Digital Bookshelf. An account will be created for you after purchase.
Interest Level Grade 2 - Grade 5
Reading Level Grade 3
Genre Picture Books, Social Studies
Category Diverse Books: #OwnVoices, Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diverse Books: Social Justice, Diversity
Copyright 2010
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2010-08-01
Reading Counts! Level 5.3
Text Type Fiction—Historical
BISACS JUV011010, JUV039120, JUV068000
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Lexile 700
Guided Reading Level R
ATOS Reading Level 4.6
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 138160
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Awards, Original artwork, Reviewed, Starred Reviews, Teaching Guides, and eSource

Author, Narrator: Calvin Alexander Ramsey

Calvin Alexander Ramsey is an Atlanta-based playwright, photographer, folk art painter, and children's book author. His plays have been performed across the United States and his picture books have won numerous awards including an ALA Notable Children's Book, a Jane Addams Children's Book Award Honor, and a Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year. He is a former Advisory Board Member of the Robert Woodruff Library Special Collections at Emory University in Atlanta. He is also a recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major for Justice Award. He is the father of three children, all of whom are writers.

Author: Gwen Strauss

Gwen Strauss's book of poems, Trail of Stones, with illustrations by Anthony Browne was published by Knopf in New York and Walker Books in London. The Night Shimmy (Random House), a children's book with the same illustrator, has been translated into several languages. She is an award-winning poet and her writing has appeared in many publications, including the London Sunday Times, The New Republic, New England Review, Kenyon Review, Tampa Review, and Antioch Review. She works as the on-site director at the Brown Foundation Fellowship Program at the Dora Maar House in Ménerbes, France.

Illustrator: Floyd Cooper

Floyd Cooper (1956-2021) was a Coretta Scott King Award winner and illustrator of numerous books for children including Ruth and the Green Book, A Spy Called James, and Max and the Tag-Along Moon. Unspeakable, one of his final picture books, was a National Book Award longlist title, a Sibert Honor book, and a Caldecott Honor book. He received a degree in fine arts from the University of Oklahoma and went on to develop a distinctive art technique called oil erasure.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

Ruth and the Green Book

The picture book inspiration for the Academy Award-winning film The Green Book Ruth was so excited to take a trip in her family’s new car! In the early 1950s, few African Americans could afford to buy cars, so this would be an adventure. But she… View available downloads →

Addressing Race and Racism with Readers

This week and throughout the coming month, the United States marks several notable anniversaries: The 2nd anniversary of George Floyd’s death on May 25, the 101st anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre on May 30, and Juneteenth on June 19 commemorating the emancipation of enslaved… View →


  • Sequoyah Book Award Nominee, Nominated, 2012
  • Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List, Long-listed, 2011
  • ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Bronze Award, Commended, 2011
  • Skipping Stones Book Award, Winner, 2011
  • Jane Addams Children's Book Award Honor Book, Commended, 2011
  • Jefferson Cup Award Honor Book, Runner-up, 2011
  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2011
  • SSLI Book Award Best Book, Winner, 2011
  • Whitney and Scott Cardozo Award for Children's Literature Finalist, Commended, 2011
  • Bluestem Award Nominee, Nominated, 2011
  • Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children, Winner, 2010
  • ALA Notable Children's Books, Winner, 2010
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2010


The Horn Book Guide

“Ramsey fashions a well-told historical narrative, supported by Cooper’s expressive paintings.” —The Horn Book Guide

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“Cooper’s soft, stippled illustrations capture both the pathos of the bigotry and the warmth of the support the family encounters, and a substantial closing note on the Green Book itself invites the audience to explore it further online. This will be a fascinating addition to any civil rights picture-book collection.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books


“Cooper’s glowing, unframed, sepia-toned artwork delivers a strong sense of the period from a child’s viewpoint. . . . [T]his is a compelling addition to U.S. history offerings.” —Booklist

School Library Journal

“The realistic illustrations are done in oil wash on board, a self-described ‘subtractive process.’ The picture is painted, then erased to ‘paint’ the final product. Overall, there is a sepialike quality to the art, giving the impression of gazing at old color photos. This is an important addition to picture book collections, useful as a discussion-starter on Civil Rights or as a stand-alone story.” —starred, School Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews

“Cooper masterfully captures the emotions of the characters, filling his pages with three-dimensional individuals. This story touches on a little-known moment in American history with elegance, compassion and humanity.” —Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly

“A sense of resiliency courses through Cooper’s (Back of the Bus) filmy illustrations—beatific portraits of the Esso worker who sells the family their Green Book and the owner of a ‘tourist home’ where the family spends the night radiate strength, kindness, and hope for a better future.” —Publishers Weekly