Join over a million readers as part of the National African American Read-In in February! Learn more about what happens at a Read-In in the English Journal article “The African American Read-In: Celebrating Black Writers and Supporting Youth“.
The following links can get you started and provide resources as your students read and explore the works of these African American writers.
- “Jacqueline Woodson: Real Characters, Real Voices“, from Language Arts, explores the people and experiences that influence the writing of Jacqueline Woodson. This lesson from ReadWriteThink.org this lesson gives students an introduction to Jacqueline Woodson’s verse memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming.
- Christopher Paul Curtis’s The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963 is the focus of the ReadWriteThink.org lesson plan Graphing Plot and Character in a Novel, which invites students to graph the journey of the family while exploring the plot and character development in the novel.
- Nikki Giovanni’s poem “The Funeral of Martin Luther King Jr.” is paired with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, taking students on a quest through time to the civil rights movement in the ReadWriteThink.org lesson Entering History: Nikki Giovanni and Martin Luther King Jr. To learn more about authors with cultural backgrounds that parallel many of the lives of our students, check out Living Voices: Multicultural Poetry in the Middle School Classroom, the NCTE book that inspired the lesson plan.
- Walter Dean Myers believes that a primary cause of lack of inspiration in readers is their difficulty decoding meaning because of language and societal differences. In his article “Writing for the Uninspired Reader” he explains how he strives to reach uninspired readers, particularly those living in the inner city, by writing using their language and contexts. Listen as Myers shared how his own experiences as a reader shaped his approach to storytelling.
- Nikki Grimes stresses the power of poetry in “An Interview with Poet Nikki Grimes” from Language Arts. Listen to a podcast interview with Nikki Grimes where her writing process and what inspires the characters in her books is shared. Also shared is her philosophy about writing for children and how her life has influenced her writing.
- Langston Hughes’s poetry is explored alongside rap lyrics and jazz and blues music in the English Journal article “Culturally Responsive Teaching: The Harlem Renaissance in an Urban English Class.” Read more about Hughes in Langston Hughes in the Classroom: “Do Nothin’ till You Hear from Me”.
- Alice Walker, bell hooks, and Nikki Giovanni are all explored in “Becoming a Writerly Self: College Writers Engaging Black Feminist Essays” from College Composition and Communication, which asserts that personal essays by Black feminist writers can be used to teach writers how to connect their personal and social identities. Learn more in the NCTE text Alice Walker in the Classroom: “Living by the Word”.
For more ideas, see the ReadWriteThink.org Calendar entry for the African American Read-In which includes more lesson plans, classroom activities, and online resources. The ReadWriteThink.org Text Messages podcast “Celebrating the African American Read-In” provides recommendations of both old and new titles by distinguished African American authors who write for teens. Featured books range from historical novels to contemporary explorations of African American life in both urban and suburban settings.
How will you be celebrating the African American Read-In?