While I am not a strong advocate of the “holiday” or “anniversary” curriculum, I must admit that the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has resulted in a fine crop of books—old and new—for teaching and learning. You can see an excellent list on the School Library Journal website at http://www.slj.com/2015/08/collection-development/a-voting-rights-bookshelf/.
I want to focus on one particular book, Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter and Shane W. Evans. This book is based on the life of Lillian Allen, an African American woman who at the age of 100 was able to vote for the first African American president.
This book can be used to introduce Common Core standards:
· Key Ideas and Details: What did the Voting Rights Act of 1965 guarantee? How did it come about?
· Craft and Structure: In his author’s note, Jonah Winter states that Lillian’s uphill climb in order to vote is a metaphor for the uphill climb faced by African Americans pursuing their right to vote. In what ways has it been an uphill climb? What obstacles did Lillian Allen face? How do the words and illustrations work together to show this?
· Integration of Information: Listen to an NPR interview with Lillian Allen at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97770913. What new information did you learn?
There are also important civic issues to discuss. First, as the author mentions, current attempts to implement photo ID requirements have had the effect of denying people their right to vote. There is still work to be done to protect this right. How can this be done? Second, the Voting Rights Act has been a long time coming. What were the steps along the way?
I am happy to see a well-written and well-illustrated book that introduces this compelling information to young readers and celebrates people like Lillian Allen who pursue their rights as Americans.