Teaching Civil Disobedience in the Midst of Nationwide Insurrection

Guest blog post by Tatiana Oliveira, 4th grade virtual teacher in Greenville, SC

On January 6th, 2021, America and the rest of the world watched in horror as white supremacists stormed Capitol Hill in Washington, DC to protest the results of the 2020 election. Almost immediately, the question arose for educators across the country: How do we approach this with students?

In my virtual fourth grade classroom, we held a candid and honest conversation about the events of the previous day. One student asked why Black Lives Matter protestors were treated so differently from these protestors. Other students shared their observations about how people with black or brown skin are treated in the United States. 

Students recognized that the violence was wrong, and that it has no place in our democracy. But the question remained: How do we reconcile these protestors with peaceful protestors such as those during the Civil Rights Movement or the Women’s Liberation Movement? 

To illustrate this distinction, we engaged in several activities over the next few days, including:

  • Read alouds of books that depicted examples of peaceful protests, such as Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford, The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, and Ron’s Big Mission by Rose Blue. 
  • Responding to and asking questions about the violence we had just witnessed. For example, one student wrote a letter to President Biden asking for him to initiate police reform and hold police officers accountable, while another student recorded a Flipgrid video explaining his mixed feelings about the Inauguration. 
  • When learning about the Constitution the following week, we read I Am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer to better understand our right to peacefully protest under the First Amendment.

It is important to show students the power of nonviolent resistance beyond standalone read alouds during Black History Month or Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The Capitol Hill riot cannot be the reference point for students when they think about protesting for meaningful change. As educators, we must teach them the fundamentality of peaceful protests to our democracy, and the role they have played in cultivating reform in American history. 

There is a significant contrast between the events of January 6th and protests of the past in the manner of, and the reasons for, protesting. As educators we must teach this intentionally and explicitly. Books are one of the most powerful platforms for having these difficult conversations at all grade levels.

Texts about Peaceful Protests


The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson

This biography tells the story of nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks, who was enraged at the segregation laws in 1960s Alabama. The youngest known person to be arrested for protesting in the Civil Rights Movement, Audrey helps lead the cause of “filling the jails,” and makes her mark as a young pioneer of desegregation.

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

A common misconception is that Rosa Parks’s peaceful protest was a spur of the moment, impulsive decision, because she was tired from work and did not want to get up from her bus seat. This text takes the reader through the background of that protest, and to the greater Montgomery Bus Boycott that took place as a result. Through its powerful illustrations and in-depth look at Parks’s life in the context of the Civil Rights Movement, readers will understand just how significant a role she played in the fight for racial justice.

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel

It is difficult to imagine a world in which children are forced to work rather than go to school, and are even employed over their parents. But that’s just what happened with Clara Lemlich, an immigrant from Ukraine in the early 1900s, who worked in a shirtwaist factory as a young child. Tired of not being fairly compensated or treated justly, Clara helps organize a massive walkout with her fellow female employees, resulting in changes to their salaries, working conditions, and treatment.

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh

Winner of the Jane Addams Award and Pura Belpré Award, this picture book tells the often overlooked story of Sylvia Mendez who, despite being an American citizen, was prohibited from enrolling in her local elementary school in the early 1940s and was instead forced to enroll in the nearby Mexican school. Her family, confused and frustrated by the laws of segregation, launches a full petition and lawsuit to desegregate California schools. As one of the major court rulings leading up to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954, the Mendez family’s fight helped integrate California schools and showed the power of a community rallying around a common cause.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Based on a remarkable true story, a gorilla named Ivan lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade with his friends, an elephant named Stella and a stray dog named Bob. Ivan longs for a day when he can be free among his family. When a baby elephant named Ruby joins their group, Ivan realizes he must fight to help get her out of captivity. He does this the best way he knows how: through his art. The signs he makes, along with his drawings, draw attention to the mistreatment of the animals at the mall, and help free Ruby and Ivan.

Middle & Secondary

A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee

Shay is a twelve-year-old girl who avoids trouble at all costs. But as a junior high schooler now, Shay has started to notice some new dynamics – with her family and with her friends. Her older sister, Hana, is active in Black Lives Matter, but many of Shay’s classmates don’t understand that movement. Shay is caught between wanting to fight for people who look like her, and wanting to just fit in at school and stay out of trouble. As she begins to learn more about the meaning of Black Lives Matter, Shay realizes that not all trouble is bad, and sometimes you have to break a few rules to see real change.

Internment by Samira Ahmed

Set in the near-future, the American President has passed several laws restricting the rights of Muslim Americans, and forcing them to live in an internment camp. Layla, a seventeen-year-old, along with her parents, are three of the citizens forced into this camp. Determined to break out, Layla forms an alliance with others in the camp and begins a revolution against the camp’s Director and the guards. 

Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar

Betita’s father loves telling her stories about her family’s journey to the United States from Mexico, and Betita loves using picture poems to illustrate her family’s plight. But after her father is deported back to Mexico, and Betita and her mother are taken into custody at an ICE detention center, she loses her passion for creating picture poems. She realizes, however, that her poetry is her greatest weapon in the fight against injustice, and uses it to draw attention to the inhumane treatment she receives in the detention center.

Additional Recommended Texts/Resources:

Enough! 20 Protestors Who Changed America by Emily Easton

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull

My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Christine King Farris

Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights by Rob Sanders

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice by Elizabeth Acevedo, Mahogany L. Browne, and Olivia Gatwood

March: Books 1, 2, 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet by Valentina Camerini

Hector: A Boy, A Protest, and the Photograph that Changed Apartheid by Adrienne Wright

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice by Bryan Stevenson

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

Efren Divided by Ernesto Cisneros

Tatiana Oliveira is a 4th grade virtual teacher in Greenville, SC. Follow her on Twitter @tmoliveira17.

A Text Set for Teaching about Climate Change and Climate Justice

Guest Blog Post by Ysaaca Axelrod, Denise Ives, & Rachel Weaver

Climate change is not a new issue, however, over the past decade it has gained visibility and more and more people are concerned about climate change and its impact on our planet and our lives. Youth are becoming more vocal and involved in efforts to address climate change and many are the face of climate activism. One of the challenges of talking and teaching about climate change is that it is a complex topic that sometimes feels overwhelming because of the scientific complexity and the magnitude of the effects of climate change on our planet. However, while the science behind climate change is complex and constantly changing and evolving, it continues to affect the lives of every living creature on our planet. Yet, we are not all impacted equally.

The most marginalized and least-resourced communities on the planet suffer disproportionately from the changing climate’s devastating effects, making climate change not just a scientific matter but ultimately a social justice issue. As educators we believe that in spite of the magnitude of the topic, it is imperative that we talk to children about climate change and climate justice.

Sharing carefully selected books can create opportunities for learning and discussion. Books on climate change and climate justice can be found across several genres: non-fiction, fiction, and narrative nonfiction, and together can provide children with an understanding of the concept of climate change, the ways that different living creatures and people are impacted by these changes, as well as ideas for how we can all be engaged and work towards climate action. 

Pasquet, J., & Arbona M. (Illustrator). (2017). My Wounded Island. (S.B. Watson, Trans.). Orca Book Publisher. (Original work published 2009) Narrative Fiction

Image result for My Wounded Island.

Using the metaphor of a monster, the narrator, Imarvaluk, a young girl from Sarichef, one of the islands near the Arctic Circle, describes the changes to her island due to rising sea levels. The book describes shifts in their way of life due to climate change, and how they are losing their traditions as well as being forced to move because of environmental changes. This book can help to understand the concept of ‘climate refugees,’ people who are displaced due to climate changes, as well as a look at some of the populations around the world who are most vulnerable to climate change. 

Winter, J. (2019). Our House is On Fire: Greta Thunberg’s Call to Save the Planet. Beach Lane Books. Narrative Nonfiction

Image result for Our House is On Fire: Greta Thunberg's Call to Save the Planet.

This book is a  biography of Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist, who at the age of 15 started to strike for climate action outside the Swedish Parliament. Inspired by her, children around the world. joined her in climate strikes. This book includes biographical information, interspersed with Greta Thunberg’s own words and calls for action. 

Paul, M. (2015). One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia. Millbrook Press. Narrative Nonfiction

Image result for One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women

This book tells the true story of an African woman, Isatou Ceesay, from The Gambia,  who started a movement to recycle the plastic bags that were polluting her community. This book celebrates a creative solution to real-world problems and illustrates how one person can make a big difference. Isatou Ceesay was recently dubbed the Queen of Plastic Recycling in The Gambia by Climate Heroes. 

Cherry, L. (2002). A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (Original work published 1992) Narrative Nonfiction

Image result for A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History.

This particular book is particularly relevant to us, located in Massachusetts. It is important to read books that provide examples of how climate change impacts our local communities as well as those that are far away. In this book, the author, Lynne Cherry (who is also the author of The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rainforest), tells the true story of the Nashua River and the efforts to clean the river and restore and protect the water through local and legislative efforts. This story shows the ways that individuals, communities and policymakers can work together to enact change.  

Godsey, M., & Kellner, C. J. (Illustrator).  (2018). Not For Me, Please! I Choose to Act Green.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Narrative Nonfiction. 

Image result for Not For Me, Please! I Choose to Act Green.

In this book, Luke, a little boy, talks about how he shifted from not caring about his actions and the environment to being aware of the consequences of his behaviors. It highlights how interconnected we all are, and how small changes on our part, can positively impact the planet and its inhabitants. The book provides concrete examples for children (and adults), how we can act green. 

These are some of the books we have used with children and teachers in classrooms to help support the teaching and learning about climate change. Our hope is that together, we can work towards climate justice to save our planet for us and generations to come. 

Additional Resources: 

Earthrise, a climate poem by Amanda Gorman

Bigelow, B., & Swinehart, T. (Eds.). (2014). A People’s Curriculum for the Earth: Teaching about the Environmental Crisis. Rethinking Schools 

Young Voices for the Planet Films

A collection of inspiring short films featuring young climate activists.

Bigelow, B. (2019). Our House is on Fire – Time to Teach Climate Justice. 

The Story of Stuff (2007)

A 20-minute online documentary video created by Annie Leonard that describes how the things we buy and use get created, distributed, and discarded. Also, available in Spanish.

Axelrod, Y., Ives, D., & Weaver, R. (2020). We are all learning about climate change: Teaching with picture books to engage teachers and students. Bank Street Occasional Papers, 36-47.

Ysaaca Axelrod is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teacher Education & Curriculum Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Email: yaxelrod@umass.edu

Denise Ives is an Associate Professor in the Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Email: dives@umass.edu

Rachel Weaver is a 3rd grade teacher at the International School of Frankfurt Rhein-Main, located in Frankfurt, Germany. Email: rachel.m.m.weaver@gmail.com

Striving and Thriving in Virtual Book Clubs During a Pandemic

“The power is not in the book itself, but rather in the readers who create meaning or co-construct meaning through dialogue, develop empathy and are inspired as change agents”.

-from Reading to Make a Difference by Lester Laminack & Katie Kelly, p.xxi

Connecting readers for in-person book club conversations is difficult due to the safety restrictions limiting social interaction during the pandemic. However, technology allows us to connect to engage in rich discussions and to deepen our thinking and our humanity. 

It’s been a full year since COVID began and school as we knew it completely shifted to a fluid combination of online and face-to-face learning with masks, plexiglass shields and desks in isolated islands spaced six feet apart. Many headlines across media sources suggest learning loss and children falling further behind in reading. We reject this deficit view and instead acknowledge the innovating ways educators and children have engaged in meaningful learning experiences. By partnering preservice teachers in Katie’s literacy methods class with Alyssa Cameron’s fourth graders for virtual book clubs, we witnessed first hand the joy and growth that comes when readers have a space to connect and discuss their thinking. Even in the midst of one of the most difficult school years ever, there is much learning and thinking and growing happening albeit occurring in different ways and through different contexts BUT still present and strong nonetheless.

Choosing Books and Establishing Book Clubs

Because we believe that all children should have opportunities to read books that matter to them, the partnership began with Alyssa providing a list of suggested chapter books based on her students’ interests, identities, and reading histories. The preservice teachers in Katie’s class then selected a book to read and created a book trailer for the fourth graders to view and then choose the book they were interested in reading.  

Virtual Book Clubs

With book clubs established, the preservice teachers and fourth graders connected at least twice a week for four weeks using Edmodo, Flipgrid, and Jamboard to discuss the self-designated chapters. They brainstormed ‘words to live by’ or a set of norms and expectations for participating in online book clubs and developed their own reading schedules to hold themselves accountable. 

For the first post each week, Alyssa offered personalized, needs-based guiding questions to scaffold the discussions and modeled for the preservice teachers various types of open-ended questions to facilitate discussion. The first posts often pulled in supporting resources to deepen understanding of topics within the books: non-fiction articles, guest experts, parallel read alouds and video clips. The second post each week was more open-ended in nature with the fourth graders sharing their thinking and the preservice teachers responding with a ‘nurture and a nudge’. For example, when a student posted that “Nya (from the book A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park) cares about her family because she goes and gets water for them,” the preservice responded as follows:

“This is a very thoughtful observation in the text of the book of how Nya cares and takes care of her family. What questions or other thoughts do you have as to why Nya, being a child, has to do such hard work for her family?”  

Some groups created multimodal Jamboards with images and links to Google Earth to explore the settings and learn about geographical contexts for the books they read, while others conducted research to understand the cultural and historical contexts within their book. Students and preservice teachers alike were empowered to take control of their own learning directions and use their voices, openly and honestly.

For the culminating discussion, Katie and Alyssa surprised them with a synchronous gathering using Zoom. Before heading to book club breakout groups in Zoom to discuss their post-reading reactions to their books, they blew up the chat box with their excitement to see their reading buddies in real time.

Good morning book buddy!!!!!

this is so fun

This is a fun surprise for us!!

The preservice teachers facilitated post-reading conversations using co-constructed thinking stems they brainstormed together using Jamboard. As the fourth graders met in breakout groups with their reading buddies in real time, Alyssa observed the pure joy and excitement filling her classroom. Every single child was engaged… talking, smiling, and participating fully in the book club conversations. 

Book clubs are for everyone! One student who is deaf signed her thoughts while her translator translated for her reading buddies in the Zoom breakout. Her college buddy from Katie’s class made this completely normal. When Alyssa popped into the breakout, she commented, “Hi Miss. Cameron, Right now Emma is talking and sharing her ideas.” Her entire group was glued to the screen, listening, nodding and ready to respond. Her voice mattered, just as much as everyone else’s even though we “heard” it in a different way. 

“Kids are often limited by what adults think they can do, especially in schools right now. And these book clubs proved so clearly that kids are ready to talk, ready to grow and able to have BIG conversations… reading DOES make a difference… and so will these humans – big and small!”

-Alyssa Cameron, 4th grade teacher

Read more about Alyssa Cameron’s work in chapter 5, Advocating for Change in Reading to Make a Difference.

Discovering Our Identities through Names

Something we all share is the fact that we have a name. Yet each of our names are different and unique. Some of our names derive from our loved ones or hold a special meaning in our cultures. During a workshop with teachers, one participant shared how she was named after her grandmother. To distinguish between their names, they went by Big Jaime and Little Jaime. She teared up as she described how their names have since reversed as her grandmother now has dementia. The roles have reversed and Little Jaime has now become Big Jaime, her grandmother’s caretaker. Others of us are named after special places or even a favorite singer or actor. When sharing about our names in class, one student giggled as she told our class her mom named her after her favorite soap opera star.

Some of us like our names. Others do not. Yet, this likely changes with time and the shifting nature of our identities and understanding as we navigate through the world. Nigerian American actor, Uzo Aduba, from the Orange is the New Black series on Netflix, never liked her name because people had difficulty pronouncing it correctly. When she asked her mom if she could change it, her mom replied that if people could pronounce Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo, they could learn to say Uzoamaka. She now realizes how important her name is and what it represents.

It is important that we honor students’ names and learn to pronounce them correctly. To learn more about ways to learn about each other’s stories, visit My Name, My Identity and take a pledge to pronounce students’ names correctly.

Then read some of the following books with your students and invite them to share the story of their own name!

We recommend that you first model by writing and sharing about your own name. Here are some guiding questions to get you started:

  • Who selected your name? 
  • How was your name chosen?
  • Are you named for someone? Some place? Something? 
  • Does your name have a significant meaning? 
  • How do you feel about your name?  
  • Have you ever considered changing your name? Why? Why not? What would it be?

To read more about discovering identities, download a free chapter from our book, Reading to Make a Difference!

reading to make a difference

Teaching During the Election 2020

Photo taken at Women’s Rights National Historical Park, Seneca Falls, NY

Next Tuesday, November 3, 2020 is the date for elections in the United States. According to a report from NPR “…Americans have already cast a record-breaking 66 million early ballots, putting the 2020 election on track for historic levels of voter turnout.” This is a significant shift compared with the low voter turnout in 2016 (only about 6 in 10 ballots cast).

Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming presidential election (and whether or not we know the outcome on Wednesday) there will be feelings of angst and uncertainty across the country. Teachers and students certainly will not be immune from these feelings and concerns. Self-care and support for students is necessary regardless of the election results.

With relationships as the heartbeat of our work as educators, it is important that we reflect on how we might consider ways to sustain community and a sense of safety during the election. Teaching Tolerance offers four suggestions to prepare for teaching during the election. First, re-establish the values of inclusivity in your classroom. Second, reflect on your identities, positionality and feelings. Next, reaffirm our responsibility to engage these issues. Finally, have plans in place if things go wrong or students need support. To read more click here: Teaching the 2020 Election: What Will You Do on Wednesday?. We have also included some resources at the end of the blog post to support your work as you guide students through the election (and beyond).

Voting is a right and a powerful way to have a voice in the democratic system. Although Election Day was first observed in 1845, several groups remained excluded and were not given the right to vote until many years later. It took 75 years before women were granted the right to vote and one hundred and twenty years for the Voting Rights Act to be signed into law giving African Americans the right to vote.

We have curated a small collection of books as a reminder of the tremendous privilege it is to vote. These titles can introduce students to the history of voting and concepts such as the electoral process.

Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice
Author: Nikki Grimes Illustrator: Laura Freeman

This recently released biography of vice presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris tells the story of a young daughter of immigrants who grows up to advocate for the rights of all. The reader is introduced to Kamala as a young girl and follow her story and her accomplishments through college and her career right up to being invited to be the vice presidential nominee.

Grace for President
Author: Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrator: LeUyen Pham

When Grace learns that the United States has not yet had a female president, she is inspired to become the first female president. Her teacher suggests an election at the school. Grace campaigns against Thomas, a fellow classmate. They each make compelling speeches and promises to their peers in an attempt to win votes. The election is a nail-biter and teaches the reader about the electoral college through the story. The author’s note in the back of the book provides additional helpful information about the electoral system.

Duck for President
Author: Doreen Cronin
Illustrator: Betsy Lewin

Life is hard on Farmer Brown’s farm. Duck did not like to do chores and questions why Farmer Brown is in charge. He decides to campaign to replace Farmer Brown. The animals registered to vote and cast their ballots resulting in a win for Duck. Duck soon realized that running a farm was hard work so he sets out to run for governor and won. However, he soon learned running a state was hard work. So Duck successfully ran for president. Yet, he quickly learned that being president was also hard work. He returned to the farm to write his autobiography. This text follows a predictable pattern and highlights the importance of conveying meaning in print as the animals who cannot communicate verbally beyond animal sounds rely on reading the signs to empower them to vote.


Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage
Author: Claire Rudolf Murphy
Illustrator: Stacey Schuet

Bessie who is not allowed to go with her father and brothers on a hike because it is too strenuous for girls soon learns that there are many things girls are not allow to do in the late 1800’s.  Bessie’s aunt, Mary McHenry Keith, introduces her to Susan B. Anthony and invites her to attend a rally in San Francisco for women’s rights. Inspired by the rally Bessie joins her mother and aunt in a march led by Susan B. Anthony.  Though the 1896 campaign did not result in the right for women to vote Bessie and her family were undaunted and continued their efforts. The author’s note reveals this story is based on a real girl named Bessie Keith Pond. In addition there is a profile of Susan B. Anthony, a timeline of progress toward women’s right to vote from 1787 through 1920 when the 19th Amendment was ratified. The book also includes a list of further resources for young readers.

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles
Author: Mara Rockliff
Illustrator: Hadley Hooper

In April 1916, Nell Richardson and Alice Burke set off in a little yellow car to drive around America.  Their journey took them “ten thousand bumpy, muddy, unmapped miles–facing danger and adventure all alone…” Their mission was to rally for women’s rights. Their rallying cry, “Votes for women!” was heard across the country.  In September, 1916, the two women returned to New York City. They traveled through a blizzard, mud and flooded creeks, across the desert, through small towns and cities to inspire support for women’s rights. There are three pages of detailed background on the time period, the newness of the automobile and the fascination generated by the little yellow car, and the long struggle to win the right for women to vote in America.  There is also a list of resources for further reading.

The Day Gogo Went to Vote
Author: Elinor Batezat Sisulu
Illustrator: Sharon Wilson

Thembi stays with her one-hundred-year-old Gogo (grandmother) after school until her parents are able to leave work.  Although Gogo is very old and rarely leaves the house anymore she has vowed to go to the polls to vote in the April 1994 election.  Thembi asks her Gogo why it is so important and Gogo explains, “Thembi, black people in South Africa have fought for many years for the right to vote?  This is the first time we have had a chance to vote for our own leaders, and it might be my last…” Finally arrangements are made to get Gogo to the polls and she casts her ballot in the election that seated Nelson Mandela as president of the country.

Papa’s Mark
Author: Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert
Illustrator: Colin Bootman

Young Simms and his family live in Lamar County and the upcoming election will be the first one African-Americans have been allowed to vote.  Each week Papa makes his mark, an X, at the general store when he and Simms pick up their order. Simms wishes his father could sign his name rather than making his mark on documents.  Papa sits at the table by candlelight and tries to write his name, “This writing looks like chicken scratch…When I vote…I’m going to write my name to get my ballot.” Before leaving for school the next morning Simms writes his Papa’s name on a piece of paper and leaves it on the table.  Papa tries and finally asks for Simms help. Slowly Papa learns to make the letters in his name. On the morning of voting day Papa and a wagon load of men from the community ride into town and Papa proudly signed his name to receive his first ballot.

LIllian's Right to Vote
Lillian’s Right to Vote
Author: Jonah Winter
Illustrator: Shane W. Evans

Lillian walks uphill towards a voting booth. She recalls relatives being sold on the auction block. As she progresses in her walk, Lillian recounts how her great-grandpa was unable to vote because of a poll tax and her Uncle Levi was turned away from voting after being asked such ridiculous questions as “How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?”  After the 19th Amendment is passed, Lillian remembers being chased away by an angry mob after her mother attempts to vote. She details the marches, the beatings, and the tenacity of those who fought for her right to vote. She votes. She has to. It is her right, her duty, her honor as an American.

*Many of these texts including Lillian’s Right to Vote could be used through high school as a catalyst for discussion on the Voting Rights Act of 1965, voter ID laws, and the 13th, 15th, and 19th Amendments.

Suggested Follow-up Activities

  • Brainstorm reasons why people should vote. Then work in groups to create posters, public service announcements, speeches, etc. to encourage registered voters to get out and vote.
  • Research the Voter ID Laws.  Are these “laws” legal? Why or why not?  Encourage students to write opinion pieces and engage in debate.
  • Why do we vote in America? Is it important? Interview up to three people (family members, community members, friends) to ask why it is important that we vote and whether or not they plan to vote in the midterm election and why.
  • Create a poster, timeline, or infographic detailing the Amendments that led up to our rights to vote.  Why is it important (or not) that we vote today? (see the Timeline tool from Read Write Think)

We invite you to share some of your favorite books and resources about voting and teaching during the election.  We will compile a list on the blog. Email us at katie.kelly@furman.edu or lesterlaminack@gmail.com or leave your thoughts and additions in the comments box. Also, please check in on yourself, your loved ones, and your students in the upcoming days and beyond.

Sending you peace and love,
Katie and Lester

Additional Resources:

After the Election: A To-Do List

Teaching in Response to the Election

Voting and Voices from Teaching Tolerance

Voting! What’s It All About? Lesson from Read Write Think