Monday, February 29, 2016

Black History Month: 28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World

28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World would have a been a great book for me to have posted at the beginning of the month. Sorry...

This book has a variety of formats that it presents the information in: narrative, poems, eulogies.

It includes not only people, but also events that affected all of us. Here are some examples:

Dred Scott
14th Amendment
Matthew Henson
Harriet Tubman - her death, but also tells what she did
Madam C J Walker's eulogy
Jesse Owens
Day Marian Anderson performs at Lincoln Memorial
Jackie Robinson
Brown vs. The Board of Education
Rosa Parks sits
Little Rock Nine attend Central High School

I hope you have enjoyed my review of picture books that can be used during Black History Month!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Black History Month: Henry's Freedom Box

Henry started his life with his mother and his brothers and sisters as slaves...they dreamed of freedom. When the master was dying, they all thought they would be freed. But the master gave Henry to his son, and Henry had to leave his family.

Henry's new job was rolling tobacco. While working his new job, Henry met Nancy. They lived together even though they had different masters. Henry loved Nancy...they started a family.

But something terrible happened...Henry's family was taken away. He would never see them again.

Henry had nothing left, except his yearning for freedom. It came to him one day to mail himself to freedom. With the help of his friend James and Dr. Smith, he mailed himself to freedom.

When Henry arrived at his destination, he was finally FREE!

You and your students will enjoy this moving true story of a man who wanted freedom so badly he was willing to mail himself to achieve it!

Teacher Resources:


Collective Memory


Education Miami

Black History Month: Child of the Civil Rights Movement

Paula Young Shelton has crafted a story of the Civil Rights Movement that tells a beautiful story. And why shouldn't she...she is the daughter of Civil Rights activist Andrew Young.

What she brings to this story is the unique perspective of a child. A child whose parents left the South for a better life in NYC, but who decide that they need to move back south after hearing about the "bad" laws and the Freedom Riders.

This picture books has "chapters" that help the reader flow more easily through the timeframe of the book.

The little girl's first sit-in in at a restaurant in Atlanta where she cries loudly because they will not let her sit at the counter.

Her family and many others get together and have meals together at their homes - but sometimes in the few restaurants for blacks. They talk about the walk from Selma to Montgomery. I love the language used to describe all the people talking at once...

          With everyone trying to talk at once, I thought they sounded
          just like instruments tuning up before a concert.

Each person's voice is compared to a different person...everyone except "Uncle Martin."

The story ends with MLK standing over LBJ's shoulder watching him sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

This is a lovely story for students since it is told from a child's perspective.

Teacher Resources:

American History Teacher

Children's Museum

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Black History Month: March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World

This picture book is a beautiful rendition of the march on Washington as told by MLK's older sister, Christine King Farris.

She tells of where all the people came from to march on Washington and why they came. They came because they believed all people should be treated equally...because they wanted to belong...because they were in search of freedom...because they wanted to MARCH!

Martin got to Washington the day before and stayed up all night to write his speech. Since he wrote all of his own speeches, he knew the importance of each and every word...his speech would not let him rest.

He met with a delegation from Congress about a law that would have black and whites treated equally. As they met, marchers gathered on the Mall. Christians walked arm in arm with Jewish people; black people held hands with white people; all marching for the same reason.

MKL looked out the window and could not believe what he saw. Thousands were there - "looking like patches of color in a great quilt spread over the National Mall."

Although there were angry people in the crowd, Martin did as he made his way to the podium. Mahalia Jackson sang...then Martin shared his dream with the crowd of people. The dream was inspirational. It demonstrated the power of words in a magnificent way.

This is a great book to share the story of the march with your students!

Teacher Resources:

History Channel

I Have a Dream Speech - youtube

Friday, February 19, 2016

Need for a couple days off...

Greetings Everyone...

I will not being posting a book today or Monday. My father passed, and the funeral is Monday. I will be back on Wednesday and will try to post some extra books for Black History Month!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Great Blog Post

I have to share this post as it is a wonderful example of writing in the classroom!

Figurative Langauge, The "Author's Tool Belt" & 5th Grade Writers by Kathy Halsey

Black History Month: Beautiful Moon - A Child's Prayer

Oh my goodness! What a marvelous book. From the story itself to the illustrations that are a mixed media and oil on watercolor paper...this book is phenomenal!

Tonya Bolden crafted a picture book that shows diversity in such a unique way. Prayer unites everyone! The boy wakes up and realizes he forgot to pray. As he looks out his window, this is what he sees...

               The amber orb floats, washing the night with a radiant glow.

Eric Velasquez illustrates mostly urban scenes using dark blues and browns. Each of the illustrations are brightened by moonlight.

And the boy prays for things you would never imagine a child would pray for...


A man too busy thinking about his daughter fighting in a distance land does not notice the moon...the boy prays for wars to end.

I will only share this one as I truly want you to find this book and share with everyone!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Black History: Mississippi Bridge

Storytelling is in Mildred D. Taylor bones. Her father was a master storyteller, so it is no wonder that Mildred decided to write stories. Her stories were different from those taught in her school...

          "It was a history of ordinary people, some brave, some not so brave, 
          but basically people who had done nothing more spectacular than 
          survive in a society designed for their destruction."

Mississippi Bridge is also different from her other books as well. This story is told from the point of view of Jeremy Simms, a white boy who was in an earlier Logan Family book.

What I really like about this book is that it is a novella. It is short enough to get through during Black History Month. But don't let it fool you. It packs a punch for sure! It is really geared more towards 5th - 7th graders...but could be read in higher grades as well.

As with Rosa, this story deals with African Americans and busses.

I do not want to get into this story as I truly want you to read it.But I will share some of her language in the book...

        ...a steady, big drop kind of rain that had roads all slopped up 
        outside and ceilings kA swollen up and leaking inside.

       It was a rickety old thing, that wooden bridge...

       My ole feet just couldn't seem to pick theysleves up and flatten
       down one more time.

You can see that the dialect will be thick in the book. But it is well worth the read. It is only 62 read it before you have your students read it. Decide if you think your students can handle the story.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Black History Month: Almost to Freedom

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson has crafted an extraordinary picture book about the Underground Railroad...and Colin Bootman's oil painting illustrations add depth to the story.

The most intriguing thing about this book is that it is told from the point of view of the rag doll owned by Lindy.

                I started out no more'n a bunch of rags on a Virginia plantation.

The rag doll goes everywhere with Lindy...even the cotton fields.

This picture book would definitely need to be a read aloud because of the Southern dialect and words from that time period.

        ...and she hug me so hard I think my insides'll bust out of my seams.

The story is a hard one to read as it is realistic about what happened when slaves disobeyed.

                  One day Lindy gets whipped by the overseer. She didn't 
                  do nothin' but ask Mass's son how to spell her name.

The story of their escape along the Underground Railroad will keep you and your students on the edge of your seats. And the ending was not what I expected...

The story provides opportunities to teach various writing techniques.

              Branches slap us along the way like they scolding', warning'
              us to go back.

             It's dead quiet 'kept for the sound of the boatman pushin',
             pushin', pushin' his oars.

             The loneliness swallows me up.

This book is a factionalized account of the Underground Railroad, but it could certainly be true. I hope you are able to use it with your students.

Teacher Resources:

Louisiana State Library

Dayton Public Schools

Monday, February 8, 2016

Black History Month: Aunt Flossie's Hats (and Crab Cakes Later)

I chose this book for today because I am in Louisiana as it is being posted...and crab cakes remind me of Louisiana! Even though the story takes place in Baltimore...

At this time of year students may have a hard time trying to find ideas to write about for personal narratives. Aunt Flossie's Hats is another great picture book to use with students to help them find ideas. Each of Aunt Flossie's hats tells a with a smoky smell from a fire, one from a parade when the Great War was over, and one that fell into the water - Aunt Flossie's favorite!

The book can be used as a mentor text for dialogue, compound sentences, the appropriate use of incomplete sentences, and following a single idea throughout a story - crab cakes.

I hope you enjoy this heart-warming story as much as I do!

Teacher Resources:

Scholastic Idea

Broward ISD

Homeschool Download

Friday, February 5, 2016

Black History Month: Rosa

Nikki Giovanni recounts the story of Rosa Parks in a very personal manner, allowing the reader to know more about Rosa - her workplace, her home, her political beliefs about women's rights. 

And Bryan Collier's illustrations compliment the story beautifully.

We learn that Rosa was the best seamstress in Montgomery.

Rosa followed the "evil" custom of going in the front of the bus to pay, then got off the bus and went in the rear door to sit at the back of the bus.

The back of the bus was full, so she sat in the  neutral section. She settled in for her ride home.

After several stops, the bus filled. The bus driver yelled at Rosa and Jimmy's father sitting next to her to move. Jimmy's father moved...Rosa did not.

She was arrested...

But the Supreme Court ruled in her favor a year after her arrest.

The integrity, the dignity, the quiet strength of Rosa Parks turned her into a YES for change.

Here are some resources for teachers:

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Black History Month: A Dance Like Starlight

Kristy Dempsey crafted a beautiful narrative of an young African American girl who longs to be a ballerina. But is there even a possibility for here back in the 1950s in Harlem.

I love how the young girl wants to wish on a star for her dream...but her mother tells her it takes hope. Hoping is hard work.

Her Mama cleans and stitches the costumes for the ballet school.

The young girl dances backstage as the ballerinas practice on the stage.

The Ballet Master holds her face in his hands after she dances one day and says, "Brava, ma petite." He lets her join the lessons at the back of the room. 

Then she sees it...a picture of Janet Collins in the paper. "First Colored Prima Ballerina - New York Opera House."

I won't tell you any more...I want you to go out and share it with your class!

The language in the story is beautiful...

               and streelights spreading bright halos round their pin-top faces

               a dream got inside my heart

               That's when hope picked my dream up from the floor of my heart

This is a wonderful story to add to your collection for Black History Month.

Here is a webpage about Janet Collins: Prima Janet Collins

Monday, February 1, 2016

Black History Month: The Real McCoy

We have all heard the expression "the real McCoy," but do you know where it came from? I didn't until I read this book:

The McCoy's lived in Canada after escaping slavery in the United States via the Underground Railroad. Elijah McCoy's parents felt strongly about educating their son. In fact, when Elijah was only 16, his parents sent him to Scotland to study mechanical engineering. While he was there, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and Elijah could go back to live in America as a free man.

However, this did not necessarily help him in finding a job. The only one he could get was as a fireman/oilman for the Michigan Central Railroad. But that didn't stop him. He wanted to find ways to make his job easier. He created and patented an oil cup to drip oil where it was needed. There were skeptics, but as soon as it was seen how successful his invention was, railroads wanted his invention. Others tried to duplicate his invention, but engineers wanted "the real McCoy." 

Elijah left the railroad to work on his inventions, but he worked as a mechanical consultant to several firms in Detroit...where he moved to from Ypsilanti. He designed many new devices and patented two or three a year.

In 1920, Elijah established his own company, The Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company. A short time after establishing his company, he and his wife were in a traffic accident. His wife, Mary, died. Elijah was never the same. He was put in an infirmary where he died five years later.

His legacy of achievements remain with us today. Detroit celebrates Elijah McCoy Day and named a street in his honor. The "real McCoy" has come to mean perfection thanks to the work of Elijah McCoy.

This book can be used as a mentor text to illustrate the text structure of chronological order.