Everyone knows Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr., but there are many other African Americans who have contributed to the rich fabric of our country but whose names have fallen through the cracks of history.
We’ve asked some of our authors who chose to write biographies of these talented leaders why we should remember them. We’ll feature their answers throughout Black History Month.
Today, Janet Halfmann shares why she wrote about Robert Smalls in Seven Miles to Freedom:
It’s Black History Month, and that means it’s time for our annual giveaway from Lee & Low Books! We’re giving away three sets of three books featuring African Americans, and the contest will run through February 28, 2013.
To enter, follow in the footsteps of Dave the Potter, the subject of our new biography Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet. Dave was an enslaved potter in South Carolina who inscribed his works with sayings and short poems in spite of harsh anti-literacy laws for slaves:
Jaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been modeling how to do a close reading at several different grade levels. Next up: Close Reading in Fourth Grade using the T level text Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet written and illustrated by Andrea Cheng, out this January!
One way to structure close reading questioning is to use the format laid out by the Institute for Learning of the University of Pittsburgh. Under their framework, students read the text selection four times: first, to get the gist; second, to find significant moments or ideas; third, to interpret the ideas in the text; and finally, to analyze the author’s methods (craft). Here’s an example of how to plan out your questions for close reading of the introduction through the first 13 pages of Etched in Clay:
I was watching President Barack Obama’s re-election speech last week and it got me thinking about speeches—how historically great speeches really matter. Speeches are like placeholders to mark significant milestones in history. I think the main idea that moved me about the president’s speech was that the message of unity—even after the most grueling, partisan, expensive election campaign ever—is reminiscent of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech. The sentiments Dr. King expressed fifty years ago are still being realized today. A truly united United States of America is very much a work in progress.
Here are some favorite speeches of mine:
Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I a Woman?, 1851
“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman?” Read more
In this post, our publicity intern Gina Chung offers some thoughts on reframing the Columbus Day holiday:
Have you ever stopped to think about the implications of celebrating Columbus Day? While most of us probably grew up associating the holiday with classroom rhymes and mnemonic devices (“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” etc.), days off from school, or sales at the mall, it’s important to remember what really happened in October of 1492. Columbus Day occupies a dubious spot in our nation’s calendar, ostensibly commemorating both the “discovery” of the Americas by Christopher Columbus and the subsequent destruction and enslavement of countless indigenous people.
Check out this video created by Nu Heightz Cinema filmmakers Carlos Germosen and Crystal Whelan in 2009. In order to garner support for a movement to “reconsider Columbus Day,” Germosen and Whelan collaborated with indigenous organizations and community activists, giving voice to the horrific and painful stories behind the mythology of the holiday.
A centenarian, chief of his indigenous village on the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, speaks about culture, his life, dying, and changing times:
Contains traditional Vanuatu clothing—very revealing by Western standards.The Daily Dish
Swedish doctor and statistician Hans Rosling illustrates and explains the progression of world health and wealth around the world, tracking 200 countries over 200 years. Disparities between the colonizers and the colonized, the effect of wars, emerging economies—it’s all here:
Another Friday is here, and we have another round of links to articles we think you’ll appreciate. Enjoy, and feel free to come back and comment on what you thought.
Our first reading suggestion comes from the New York Times. This year is the 150th anniversary of the start of the civil war, and the Times has a new column, disunion, that follows the war’s developments, day by day but a century and a half later. You can start at the beginning, or you may be particularly interested in Jim Crow on West Broadway, about a young African American man who refused to get off a whites-only streetcar, a hundred years before Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks.
It’s Native American Heritage month, and do we ever have recommendations for you! You can go to our site and see all our Native American titles, but we’re going to highlight a couple of them today.
Sky Dancers is a majestic story of the Mohawk steal workers who built the skyscrapers of New York City, as seen through the eyes of a young boy. On weekends, John Cloud lives with his parents on the reservation in upstate New York, but during the week his father is off in the city. When his mother takes him to New York, John Cloud is proud to see his father high above the city on a crossbeam of the Empire State Building. The Art Deco-influenced art and John Cloud’s independent mind make this book stand as tall as a skyscraper.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and there are lots of great resources to use in supporting children and teens who are being bullied. We have several books, including First Day in Grapes, Willie Wins, and Chess Rumble. The Department of Health has a Stop Bullying Now site, and the National Center for Bullying has its Kids Against Bullying site; both feature games, videos, and information aimed at elementary-school kids. There’s a brand-new resource for gay, lesbian, bi, and transgender teens: the It Gets Better Project, a collection of videos—most recorded by ordinary people, but also including videos by Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Obama, and other celebrities—encouraging young people to hold on and live, because life gets better after high school. We hope you’ll share your favorite resources in comments.