How can you teach about Black History Month and meet the demands of the Common Core English Language Arts Standards? Read short stories and poems by great African American authors! Here are our top 10 selections to help you integrate Black History Month into your classroom:
November 12, 2013
On November 12, 1954, Ellis Island, gateway to America for more than 12 million immigrants, closed permanently. An estimated 40 percent of American citizens can trace their ancestry through Ellis Island, the first federal immigration center.
October 28, 2013
On October 28, 1886, the Statue of Liberty was officially dedicated in New York City in a large celebration featuring President Grover Cleveland and a massive city parade. The statue, designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was meant as a shared symbol of liberty between the United States and France, and now stands as one of the most iconic American landmarks.
August 5, 2013
Poet Wendell Berry was born on August 5, 1934 in Kentucky to a family of tobacco farmers. He has won numerous awards for his work, including the National Humanities Medal. Berry was also selected as the 2012 Jefferson Lecturer, which recognizes distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.
May 27, 2013
In Flanders Field
By John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from … Read more »
May 24, 2013
This charming poem by Wisconsin educator Ninette Maine Lowater (1844–1932) is perfect for remembering Memorial Day with younger children. Published in 1904, it delicately addresses how the living care for and “keep alive” their dead.
What is the mood of the poem? How—and why—do Roy and his Grandma care for Grandpa as they do? What is the meaning of the last two lines? Why is the poem called “Roy’s Decoration Day”?
I brought blue … Read more »
May 21, 2013
Rest on embalmed and sainted dead!
Dear as the blood ye gave,
No impious footstep shall here tread
The herbage of your grave.
These lines are inscribed on the west face of the McClellan Gate at Arlington National Cemetery. During the Civil War, as the cemetery was being established (1864), Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs ordered lines from the poem inscribed on the cemetery’s gate, although without attributing … Read more »
May 20, 2013
Do you wear a red poppy on Memorial Day? Two poems helped start the tradition: John McCrae’s famous World War I elegy “In Flanders Field” and Moina Bell Michael’s response “We Shall Keep the Faith.” Read the poems and compare how the two treat the central image of the red poppy.
April 30, 2013
On April 30, 1789, George Washington, standing on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York, took his oath of office as the first President of the United States. Today’s poem, composed by John Greenleaf Whittier, was read on April 30, 1889, at the centennial celebration of Washington’s first taking the oath of presidential office.
April 29, 2013
Born in New York City, Emma Lazarus (1849–87) was one of the first prominent Jewish American poets. She is most famous for her 1883 sonnet, “The New Colossus,” which describes the hope of immigrants looking for a new life in the United States. After her death, in 1902, excerpts from the poem were inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, immortalizing Lazarus’ contribution to American literature.