I think one of my most favorite historical figures to teach in second grade is Jackie Robinson. I always found him to be such a fascinating man. Also, because he was a baseball player, he scored pretty high interest for my students – especially some of my boys!
To set the stage for segregation, since for many of my students it was (thankfully) very hard to relate to, we watched a video clip of The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss. It is a great, child-friendly example of segregation and discrimination (“They had no stars upon ‘thars!”).
Now, before reading this book aloud to your class make sure to read it yourself first. It is meant for slightly older children. While the content isn’t inappropriate, it is a heavy topic. I felt comfortable and read it to my students because I knew them well.
It is a beautiful story about a friendship between two boys in a rural area during the Civil Rights movement. One of the characters is white and the other is African American. In the middle of the book, “a new law” is put in place that will allow the best friends to go to the public pool together. Both boys are thrilled until they realize that sometimes it takes more than a law for change…and they try to make a little change themselves.
It is a great, but deep story. I used it to set the stage for the feelings surrounding segregation during the Civil Rights movement. It is a complex story, but then again, it was a complex era.
A beautiful story to introduce Jackie Robinson is the book Teammates by Peter Golenbock.
I love this book to teach Jackie Robinson. It is a great way to show examples of sportsmanship (good and bad), patience, and dependability. It DOES mention the KKK and death threats. I am not comfortable discussing this with my second graders so I just skim over this part. This book has elements of a biography as well as narrative. It has both photographs and drawings.
I also wanted a biography of Jackie Robinson with lots of text features. I found this one.
It is a GREAT book and has TONS of text features…but it is also really long. I felt it was too much as a read-aloud for my class. Instead, I decided to create my own. If you can’t find it, you make it- right??!!
I created a 12 page interactive EBook. It is perfect for projecting on your SmartBoard or Promethean Board. I tried to include several text features so that this could also be used for student nonfiction features in a text. Some of the features are clickable so that it will link to another slide or a definition will pop up (for the bolded text). The following features are included:
• Table of contents (clickable)
• Bolded text (clickable)
• Glossary (clickable)
• Index (clickable)
Do you have any favorite books about Jackie Robinson?
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Mandy Gregory is a 2007 and 2012 Teacher of the Year. She has taught 4th, 3rd, and 2nd grade in both the general education and inclusion settings. She is the owner and creator of Mandy’s Tips for Teachers website (www.mandystipsforteachers.com) and has over 10 years of teaching experience. She is married with two beautiful children.