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.

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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!


Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas: A Winter Mentor Text Lesson (FREE!)

Hello! Welcome to our winter mentor text link up! The book I chose to feature this time is Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim. This book, just published in 2015, is a fun spin-off of the classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Since this book is set during Chinese New Year, late January through February is a perfect time of year to share this book with your students. Full disclosure: this blog post contains affiliate links. :)
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas- Mentor Text for comparing and contrasting! Includes three FREE printables!



A quick summary:
 Goldy Luck's mom hands her a plate of turnip cakes and tells her to take them to her neighbors, the Chans
. When no one answers the door, Goldy gives the door a little push, and tumbles inside, dropping her turnip cakes everywhere. When she wanders into the kitchen to find a broom, she spies three steaming bowls of congee. I'm sure you know where it goes from here... she also ends up in the living room, where she breaks Little Chan's rocking chair, and ultimately ends up in Little Chan's bed, fast asleep. When the panda family arrives home, they see that their house is in disarray, and they find Goldy asleep in Little Chan's bed. Goldy wakes up and runs from the house. BUT... it doesn't stop there. Goldy begins to feel guilty and returns to the Chans' apartment, where she apologizes and helps to clean up the mess she made. The story ends with Goldy and Little Chan making a new batch of turnip cakes, and Goldy being given a red envelope (which is a traditional Chinese New Year custom).

I LOVE THIS BOOK for so many reasons!! First, the author weaves countless Chinese New Year customs and traditions into this story. Second, it's soooooooo fun to read! Check out this line: "She plunked down on Mr. Chan's massage chair. Something hard steamrollered up and down her back. 'Ouch!' she cried, springing to her feet. 'Too rough.' "  Third, I appreciate how the author creates an alternate ending to the traditional tale, and has Goldy return to take responsibility for her actions. Fourth, the illustrations by Grace Zong are terrific! Finally, this book includes some extras, like a page of facts about Chinese New Year and a turnip cake recipe.

BEFORE READING

To begin, I'll ask students to raise their hand if they have ever heard the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The majority of students will likely raise their hands, but there may be a few newly-arrived ELLs who are not familiar with the story. I'll instruct them to turn to a neighbor and work together to summarize the classic tale (and I'll remind them to use the summarizing fiction skills that we've learned earlier in the year)!

After allowing time for the partner discussion, I'll show my students Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, and explain that I will be reading this story, which is a spin-off of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. While I am reading, it will be their job to listen closely and notice similarities and differences between this Goldy Luck version and the original Goldilocks story.

AFTER READING

After enjoying the book, we will use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I also created three worksheets you can use with your students. (The images below show the answer key versions, but when you download the packet, you will find the printables your students can write on.)

On the first worksheet, students write two comparing sentences and three contrasting sentences based on the Venn diagram that we just created.
FREE Compare and Contrast Worksheet to accompany the mentor text, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas


On the second worksheet, students zoom in on the ending of Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas. They are asked to consider the author's purpose for changing it so significantly.
FREE Author Perspective Worksheet to accompany the mentor text, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas

On the third worksheet, students compile a list of ways that the author added bits of Chinese culture into the story. I plan to read the book aloud a second time (I doubt I'll hear any complaints!!), and have students create this list while they are listening to the story a second time.
FREE printables to accompany the book, Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas
To download these three worksheets, just click on any of the three worksheet images shown above.

Thanks for stopping by! Before you leave, be sure to enter the giveaway. One lucky winner will receive all of the books shared in this linkup!! By the way, MY MYSTERY WORD IS FROSTY.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, be sure to hop around to my friends' blogs and check out the other books shared in this linkup!