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

Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation

Bibliographic Information: Pinkney, A. D., & Pinkney, B. (2008). Boycott blues: How rosa parks inspired a nation. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.

Reading Level: 560L

Synopsis: Pinkney uses colorful, bold and wispy brush strokes to create the artistic illustrations within this text that tells the story of Rosa Parks. Rhythmic words and phrases cover each page as the reader learns how Rosa refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man.  Trying to stomp out Jim Crow, the people in town unite together and stop riding the city buses in protest. Descriptive adjectives help create a mental picture of the struggles, emotions, and tolls it took to fight for Civil Rights.

Rationale for Classroom Use:  The author includes a vast range of vocabulary and figurative language throughout the text that would be great to focus on in the classroom.  Examples of the rich language are words such as weary, wail, segregation, crooned and phrases such as “With boycott feet”, and “When the blues burned so blue-hot.” The class could spend time picking apart these phrases for literal and non-literal meanings, as well as deciding why the author chose to use them and how they added to the text.  In small group, students could participate in close reading to analyze context clues surrounding an unfamiliar word in order to determine its meaning.

Common Core Connection:

 L.3.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings.

L.3.5a Distinguish the literal and nonliteral meanings of words and phrases in context (e.g., take steps).

L.3.4a Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.


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