Welcome to the fourth installment of NPR's Backseat Book Club, where we select a book for young readers — and invite them to read along with us and share their thoughts and questions with the author.
Our selection for January — The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis — describes the civil rights era from the perspective of a young (and extremely mischievous) boy and his family.
"The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed the parts of Alabama's immigration law that require proof of lawful residency in the U.S. and track immigration information about newly enrolled students," The Huntsville Times writes.
Alabama's toughest-in-the-nation law on illegal immigration went into effect Thursday, a day after a federal judge upheld some of its key provisions, but the court battle over the issue appears far from over.
State law enforcement can now question and detain without bond people they suspect may be in the country illegally, and public schools are required to verify students' immigration status.
The Hofer family in Bayou La Batre, Ala., is struggling to stay afloat both financially and emotionally. Since the BP oil spill, Aaron, 27, has been largely out of work. Lena, 25, is getting counseling to help her cope and says she has finally convinced her husband, an Iraq war veteran, to get help at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"To be honest with you, I would say that my husband would hurt himself," Lena says, "because he's never not been able to provide for us. To see my husband cry over not being able to take care of us, it worries me."
These are hard times in the hard-working town of Bayou La Batre, Ala. It's known as the state's seafood capital -- and it struggled to get back in business after Hurricane Karina.
But once again, the processing plants and shrimp boats lining the bayou are mostly idle after the BP oil spill.
So when Feed the Children trucks recently arrived at the community center, the turnout was huge. About a dozen volunteers worked quickly handing out big cartons packed with food and household goods. Residents had to sign up in advance, so some were reluctantly turned away.