10 Short Stories and Poems for Black History Month

February 3rd, 2014

How can you teach about Black History Month and meet the demands of the Common Core English Language Arts Standards? Read short stories and poems by great African American authors! Here are our top 10 selections to help you integrate Black History Month into your classroom:

1. Why should we remember great leaders and activists like Frederick Douglass? Can poetry help us remember? Read this sonnet by Robert Hayden and reflect.

2. Compare Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird” with Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Sympathy.” Who is the caged bird? Why does it sing? Can you relate the bird to the struggle for civil rights in America?

3. How have African Americans helped shape our nation? Read this story by Langston Hughes about a black high school senior who aspires to become an artist.

4. How should we honor and transmit our familial, cultural, and religious legacies? Reflect with this beautiful story by Alice Walker. 

5. What does is mean to be an invisible man? Consider this question with this famous passage from Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel.

6. How does racial discrimination affect both the targets of discrimination and those who discriminate? W. E. B. Du Bois provides one answer in his dialogue, “On Being Crazy.”

7. Honor the legacy of military service and sacrifice by African Americans with this powerful short story by John O. Killens about a black soldier headed off to war. 

8. Help your students understand the experience of disenfranchisement with this story about a black Army veteran who tries to register to vote in a Southern town.

9. What is compassion? How can we best show compassion to others? Explore these questions with one of our favorite stories by Anthony Grooms. 

10. “I, Too, Sing America.” What does it mean to sing America? Does America have a common song?

P.S. Learn more about the history of the month on our blog.

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