Teaching Children's Literature

“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.” ~C.S. Lewis

Langston Hughes: The Negro Speaks of Rivers

Bibliographic Information:  Lewis, E. B. (2009). Langston hughes: The negro speaks of rivers. New York: Jump At the Sun Books.

Reading Level: Adult Directed/K-2

Synopsis: Illustrator E.B. Lewis interprets Langston Hughes powerful poem by using dull watercolors that capture realistic looking places and people.  Using figurative language, the poem portrays the struggles of the African American community in order to create social awareness.  Hughes refers to different rivers around the world to show African American’s experiences and emotions during this time period.

Rationale for Classroom Use:  This is a simple poem that can be integrated cross curriculum during a poetry unit. The teacher could give background information on slavery during a social studies lesson prior to reading this poem.  With their own copy of the poem,  students could analyze each line in order to try to understand the meaning and feelings behind the lines and individual words. Sharing different interpretations and responses to the poem can lead to open discussions about this time period and help students develop multiple perspectives.

Common Core Connection:

RL.1.4: Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.

1.C.1.2: Use literature to help people understand diverse cultures.


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This entry was posted on June 14, 2013 by in Beginner Readers/ Early Readers, Picturebooks and tagged , , .

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