This post is by Lee Ann Potter, Director of Educational Outreach at the Library of Congress.
The Rocket Book
In the May/June 2016 issue of Social Education, the journal of the National Council for the Social Studies, our “Sources and Strategies” article featured The Rocket Book, a children’s book published in 1912.
The details contained in both the story’s prose and its illustrations—from the names and occupations of the tenants to the pastimes and inventions depicted—provide a unique glimpse of urban life in America in the early years of the twentieth century.
- reading The Rocket Book aloud, then providing small groups of students with individual pages from the book to analyze what they observe, reflect upon, and question;
- inviting students to share their work;
- writing their responses on the board (or including them in a shared electronic document), and identifying categories that reflect elements of culture; and
- leading a discussion about urban culture in America at the turn of the twentieth century; asking students to consider what details might be the same or different in a similarly-themed child’s book written today, or one written 50 years earlier; and asking to what extent they think the scenes depicted in The Rocket Book were typical in American cities at the time it was published.
Then, we suggested extending this activity by encouraging student research into the Progressive era, or, more specifically, into the activities of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine; and directing students to compare and contrast The Rocket Book’s contents with the information from the other sources they discovered.
Finally, we alerted readers to additional children’s books available from the Library of Congress , and the new Story Bug app that launched at the Library in January.
What strategies involving historic children’s books have you used with your students?
Throughout human history, communities have contended with the consequences and costs of severe weather. Recent discourse about climate, sea levels, and weather events include both national and local-level conversations about building community resilience in response to severe weather. Primary sources can initiate deep learning about severe weather and community preparedness and responses.
Individually and collectively humans exert both positive and negative influences on Earth’s systems. Teachers and students studying the interactions among Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and biosphere and related human activity can explore images, manuscripts, and recorded oral history interviews from the Coal River community in West Virginia.
Throughout history, music has been used for celebrations and for memorial events; to sway opinion or highlight a specific point of view; or to encourage people to vote for a particular political candidate.
Primary sources often reward close observation with additional information that can lead to deep thinking, questioning, and new understandings.
The new Weather Forecasting Primary Source Set from the Library of Congress includes depictions of a number of early weather tools. Analyzing these historical primary sources depicting technological innovations can offer students insights into the nature of science and science practices, as well as core scientific concepts.
From a centuries-old barometer to a twenty-first century climate map, from diagrams of optical phenomena drawn by Isaac Newton to forest-health charts created by West Virginia volunteers, two new primary source sets from the Library of Congress provide rich opportunities to explore the scope and nature of scientific endeavor.
The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Association, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service and US Holocaust Memorial Museum have joined together to create a portal providing links to resources from all of these heritage institutions.
For Children’s Book Week, we want to highlight books and authors talks available for free online from the Library of Congress. Of course, these can be powerful and engaging literacy tools any week of the year!
In my first Multimedia Moment post, I focused on the action in actuality street scenes. One of the films, the 1897 Edison film Corner of Madison and State Streets, Chicago, showed people walking across the street with large signs that appeared to be advertisements. I instantly wanted to know what was written on the signs.