This unit introduces instructional moves for how teachers can use their classroom libraries for deep critical thinking on issues of race, racism, and inequality. This unit uses a middle school level novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Taylor, 1976), but the content objectives, teaching strategies, and activities are applicable to any novel study. Building upon how classroom libraries function as resources for thought provoking literature and discussions from the 2019 Yale Teachers Institute Seminar Teaching about Race and Racism Across the Disciplines, this unit primarily explores the historical context of the novel primarily using the language of music to analyze characters. Students will develop interpretations about how these conditions influenced characters’ traits, roles, or conflicts and construct a central thesis on a character of their choice. It incorporates pedagogical tools and resources expanding curricular strategies and provides a framework for student discussion beyond the text on issues about race, racism, and forms of inequality.
(Developed for Teaching English and Language Arts, grade 7; recommended for Teaching English and Language Arts, grade 9)