Book Review—’PRIDE: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag’

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk
Image: Random House Books for Young Readers

History is an every-growing thing. For most of us, it’s difficult to think of things which have happened in our lifetimes as “history,” but all history happened in someone’s lifetime. Stories which were once the topic du jour are finding their way into history lessons and being put out of the minds of those who were there.

One such story is that of Harvey Milk, Gilbert Baker, and the rainbow flag, which is told in the illustrated children’s book PRIDE: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

What parents need to know about PRIDE: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag

Parents should know that PRIDE is a clear and simple depiction of the life of Harvey Milk, the creation of the Rainbow flag, and the cultural shifts they sparked. The book is written and illustrated with a clear eye for kids, with well-articulated facts and little embellishment. Most importantly, the issues of cultural acceptance and the assassination of Harvey Milk and Mayor Moscone are depicted in an entirely factual, kid-appropriate manner. Best for ages 4+, but listed for kids 5-8. (Adults can learn from this book, too!)

page from Pride, the Story of Harvey Milk
Image: Random House Books for Young Readers

The story begins with a short introduction into the life of Harvey Milk, beautifully illustrated by Steven Salerno. It depicts the very real and poignant feeling of otherness which queer folk of the not-too-distant past experienced on a daily basis.

page from Pride, the Story of Harvey Milk
Image: Random House Books for Young Readers

Then we are introduced to Harvey Milk’s activism, political involvement, and his idea to give the queer community and their allies a symbol of hope.

Next, we are introduced to Gilbert Baker, the creator of the first rainbow flag. His flag, unlike the modern one, had eight colors: hot pink, red, orange,  yellow, green, turquoise, indigo, and violet. In the back matter, the biography reminds us that Baker remained an activist until his death just over a year ago, on March 31, 2017.

Image: Rory Bristol

As the book progresses, we see how Harvey galvanized the community with the Pride flag. In calm and beautiful prose, Sanders writes of Harvey’s assassination along with Mayor Moscone. The famous and heart-warming response of the community was a mile-long candlelight vigil in the dark streets of San Francisco.

The second half of the book focuses on the journey of the rainbow flag, from the creation of the world’s largest flag to the White House being lit in the colors of the rainbow flag in celebration of queer civil rights. By this time, the most common version of the Pride flag included red, orange, yellow, green, royal blue, and violet.

For a more full and kid-oriented accounting of the facts and stories, check out PRIDE: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, now available on Amazon for $12.32 with Prime or $17.99.

Disclaimer: Random House was kind enough to provide a review copy of this book for evaluation purposes.

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