Read Alouds for Black History Month (with free printables!)

In the United States, February is Black History Month. This month is dedicated to educating Americans about the countless contributions African Americans have made to our country, as well as remembering the obstacles they've had to overcome throughout American history.

My favorite way to celebrate Black History Month in the classroom is to present read alouds. There are so many excellent picture books that would be perfect to read during February... I'm going to share two with you today. (This blog post contains Amazon affiliate links.)

Two incredible books that highlight important aspects of African American history. This blog post also contains a FREE printable that can be used as a follow-up activity for each book! Great for Black History Month or for any time of the year!


SIT-IN: HOW FOUR FRIENDS STOOD UP BY SITTING DOWN

A fabulous book about a student-led protest that took place during the Civil Rights Movement. This blog post contains a FREE follow-up writing activity, too!

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down is written by Andrea Davis Pinkney, and is illustrated by her husband, Brian Pinkney. It tells the story of the four young college students who, after hearing Dr. King's messsage, took a seat at the Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. They ignored the restaurants segregation policy, and refused to leave until they were served. The book goes on to explain how word of the sit-in spread like wildfire, and soon there were sit-in protests happening across the country during 1960.

The author of this book uses a beautiful poetic voice. I like how some of the most important messages of the Civil Rights Movements are written in bold to really stand out.
Sit-In is a fabulous book about a key student-led protest that took place during the Civil Rights Movement. This blog post contains a FREE follow-up writing activity, too!

I created a simple follow-up writing activity that highlights a few of those quotes that are written in bold. Click HERE to download the writing worksheet.

Sit-In is a fabulous book about a key student-led protest that took place during the Civil Rights Movement. This blog post contains a FREE follow-up writing activity, too!


Also, I found this 4-minute video clip that summarizes how non-violence was key to the Civil Rights Movement. I suggest showing this video before reading the book to provide background knowledge.
Cut and paste this link to access a sharp image: http://www.voanews.com/a/nonviolencekey-to-civil-rights-movement/1737280.html

THE SECRET TO FREEDOM

This is a fabulous book that tells about how quilts were used to guide escaped slaves along the Underground Railroad. What a great read-aloud for Black History Month or any time of the year! This blog post contains a FREE test prep activity that accompanies this book.

The Secret to Freedom is by Marcia Vaughan. Although it is historical fiction, it is written like a personal narrative. The book is written in first-person as the narrator recalls visiting her great-aunt Lucy when she was 10 years old. The young girl asks her great-aunt Lucy about the quilt scrap hanging from the kitchen wall. That's when Great-aunt Lucy tells her story of growing up as a slave on a plantation in South Carolina right before the Civil War.

It's a heart-wrenching story, as she tells of how Lucy's parents were sold to a far-away plantation, and how her brother is tied to a tree and whipped for no good reason. It's also an inspiring story, however, as Lucy tells of how Albert arrives home one day with a sack of quilts. The quilts are sewn in such a way that they contain a secret code, as each pattern gives important information to slaves planning to escape along the Underground Railroad. Lucy hangs certain quilts on certain days, and the plantation owners have no idea what is happening on their property.

The ending of this story is very touching, and it reinforces the unyielding strength of family bonds. In fact, if I were reading this book to upper elementary students, I would definitely take a moment to determine the theme of the book after finishing the story.

I truly love the book itself, so when I found the Author's Note, it was an added bonus! The author's note gives additional details about how the quilts were used to convey messages to the passengers of the Underground Railroad.
The Secret to Freedom is a fabulous book that tells about how quilts were used to guide escaped slaves along the Underground Railroad. What a great read-aloud for Black History Month or any time of the year! This blog post contains a FREE test prep activity that accompanies the Author's Note at the end of the book.

The Secret to Freedom is a fabulous book that tells about how quilts were used to guide escaped slaves along the Underground Railroad. What a great read-aloud for Black History Month or any time of the year! This blog post contains a FREE test prep activity that accompanies the Author's Note at the end of the book.
The back cover provides illustrations that match the quilt patterns described in the Author's Note.


USING THIS BOOK AS A TEST PREP ACTIVITY

This blog post contains a test prep activity that can be used with the read-aloud book The Secret to Freedom. Use the author's note to model an excellent test-taking strategy!

In the school districts near me, teachers are preparing to take standardized test in late February or in March. When I read the author's note, I decided that it would provide a perfect ELA test-prep activity in which a teacher could model the best way to approach a reading passage on a test.

In the school district where I most recently taught, we instructed students that a good test taking strategy is to read the question stems first, highlighting the important words in the stem. This allows students to "read with purpose" because they know what information they should be looking for as they read. After reading through the question stems and determining the important words, our paper looks like this:

FREE TEST PREP PRINTABLE! This blog post contains a test prep activity that can be used with the read-aloud book The Secret to Freedom. Use the author's note to model an excellent test-taking strategy!
Click on this image to download this free test prep printable!


The next step is reading the passage, of course. For this modeling activity, I would think-aloud as I read aloud. For example, when I reached the section about the log cabin, I would say something like "Hey! I remember highlighting "log cabin" when I was reading the question stems. I'm going to highlight it here on the passage so I can refer to it easily when I am answering the questions.

After reading the entire passage, I would return to the questions and answer each one. I would also model how I would return to the text to justify each of my answers.

Would you like an opportunity to win these two books? Just enter the Rafflecopter! I will ship the book to the winner of each giveaway!



Finally, if you are looking for additional activities to recognize and celebrate Black History Month in your classroom, feel free to check out my partner plays! This set includes SIX scripts featuring the accomplishments of Frederick Douglass, Hank Aaron, Elijah McCoy, Ruby Bridges, Thurgood Marshall, Althea Gibson, and Jesse Owens. Click on the image to check them out!
Black History Month Partner Plays for upper elementary classrooms! Great for building fluency and recognizing the contributions of African Americans throughout history!


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