In February, educators across the United States honor the central role African Americans have played in history. It is a time for reflection, humility, and honor. Many teachers use this time to educate and inspire students about the impact African Americans have made by showing famous films or documentaries, reading historical and inspiring pieces of literature or understanding key events that have changed the social landscape of this country.
The Black History Month collections in GVRL were created with educators in mind. There are two collections: K6, which targets elementary levels, and an upper collection for middle and high school. The collections contain eBooks with varied reading levels and assorted titles with topics that are both entertaining and academic.
Black History Collection of eBooks on GVRL for Elementary Learners
The K6 collection for elementary schools has 40 titles that cover an array of topics such as biographies of famous African Americans and historical events like the Civil Rights Movement, the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Abolition and African American migration. The collection contains numerous series that educators can use in their classrooms. The Story of the Civil Rights published by Enslow details the Civil Rights Movement in pictures. The documents shown are authentic and it helps students visualize a time that impacted the social and political history of America. Because students these days are more visual, due to smartphones and other types of technology, this way of teaching about an important time in African American history will resonate well in a classroom. Another visual series in the K6 collection is the Primary Sources of the Abolitionist Movement published by Cavendish Square. It is critical for students, even at a young age, to be able to look at resources that humanize history. Most often the past events covered in class are difficult for students to comprehend due to changes in the times. Primary sources and images, like in the Enslow series, are a perfect way to bridge the gap and teach students about an important time in American history.
So, how can K6 teachers actually use the eBooks mentioned in this posts? Pictures are a great way to capture students’ interests immediately. With the images found in The Story of the Civil Rights, teachers can use them for warm-ups at the beginning of a lesson; asking students to describe what they see, how it feels and how the picture makes them feel as well. Students can also use an image from the book and create a story, poem or video about it. Creating ownership by letting students pick an image and build their assignment around it is a wonderful way to inspire students during Black History Month.
Black History Collection of eBooks on GVRL for Middle & High School Learners
The upper-level collection, created for middle and high school, has 139 titles and is still as diverse and engaging as the lower level collection, but differentiates more by the challenging texts and comprehensive subjects meant for older readers. The collection covers topics such as biographies, Black Lives Matter movement, African Americans in America today, folklore, music, and business. The Social Issues in Literature series by Greenhaven is an English teacher’s go-to for popular African American literature used in a high school classroom. The series covers the life works of authors, Langston Hughes, Frederick Douglas, Zora Neale Hurtson, and more. Teachers and students can use the series as they cover important African American literature to help comprehend historical context, themes, and contemporary views. Another series that stands out differently from most is the Lucent Library of Black History by Lucent Books. This series has a nice mix of titles that are distinctive such as jazz, the Civil Rights Movement, literature, notable women, important landmarks, and sports. Students can choose from an array of titles and topics to explore for Black History Month with this series.
How can middle and high school teachers use this collection in their classroom? Both the series mentioned in the upper collection provide something for students that is imperative in classrooms today: choice. Using The Social Issues in Literature series teachers can have students pick the author and their piece of literature to read and then identify the theme, analyze it, compare to the social issues of today and provide evidence to support their claims. The same can be done with the Lucent series—students can pick a title to read and research the topic(s) within further and present to the class about their findings.
The Black History Month collections in GVRL provide students and teachers with the resources that emphasize cultural appreciation, can relate to other areas in a curriculum, connects past to present issues, and—most importantly—can be used year-round, not just during Black History Month.