The process of selecting books published long ago for a present-day audience provoked thoughtful conversations among our staff. We knew that the style of writing, the subject matter, and even the jokes found in century-old books might be difficult for young readers today to engage with. We knew that every book that we selected would inevitably reflect some of the attitudes, perspectives and beliefs of its own time, as well as failing to represent diverse authors and audiences.
General Tubman, suffragist, spy, nurse, Moses, and Aunt Harriet are just some of the titles that heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman has been given. Tubman, and her multiple roles and identities from her early life to her elderly years, was the focus of a recent Library of Congress/Young Readers Center program.
Analyzing secret messages from the past can also be a fun way for students to gain perspective into historical events while simultaneously practicing real-world mathematical and computational thinking skills.
Comparing the narratives in secondary sources to primary sources from the Rosa Parks Papers can foster student inquiry to develop a more complex understanding of her role in the Civil Rights Movement as a life-long activist.
The Rosa Parks Papers at the Library of Congress can promote student inquiry into the complexities of Parks’ life and activism and engage students in analysis about her life and civil rights activism to support or refute popular depictions of Parks in civil rights narratives.
Harry Houdini, who died on Halloween in 1926, is probably best known as a magician and escape artist, but he also devoted considerable energy to investigating and debunking the claims of spiritualists. Who better to peel back that veil than a master illusionist?