Multiculltural Read Aloud

by: Gianna Ouellette

"Finding Lincoln" by Ann Malaspina and illustrated by Colin Bootman was published in 2009 by Albert Whitman and Company.

This Read aloud is planned for fifth graders. "Finding Lincoln" takes place in the 1950's and follows a young boy from Alabama who desperately wants to find a book about Abraham Lincoln. There is one problem, all of the books about Abraham Lincoln are located in the "whites only" library. This story takes place when segregation was legal, and unequal. He takes a courageous step into the library and is surprised by what he can do when he "shakes things up". This book is based on true events. A man named John Lewis, along with his brothers, sisters, and cousins went into a "whites only" library to check out a library book in Troy Alabama. The video below shows John Lewis speaking on this issue he was faced with years ago.

The story portrays cultural accuracy and authenticity of the characters. It is rich in cultural details, and it is very inviting to reflection, critical analysis, and response,

Presentation with Congressman John Lewis at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference

This book has been recognized for several literary rewards including:

2009 NAPPA Gold Winner

2010 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, Grades Pre K-3;

2011-2012 Show Me Readers Award Nominee List (Missouri)

A 2010 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People

A 2010 Skipping Stones Honor Award Winner

2010 Horace Mann Upstanders Book Awards

About the Author

Ann Malaspina has written seventeen nonfiction books, several of them about people who fought for their civil rights.

This book features paintings by Colin Bootman who is a Coretta Scott King honor artist.

Together, they make history come to life.

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Explore "Finding Lincoln"

Finding Lincoln by Ann Malaspina and Colin Bootman


Discrimination- the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different people because of race, age, or gender.

"Shake things up"- Doing what is right even when It is the unpopular thing to do.


1) "what would you say if I told you only the girls were allowed to go outside and play at recess ?" " What if I said only the boys were allowed to read library books ?" "I want everyone to think for a second about how that would make you all feel." "Did you know that there was a time when some people were not allowed to do certain things just because of the way they look?" Show students the book, "finding Lincoln". "Today we are going to read a story that is based off of a true event from this time period". "This book takes place in 1951 in Alabama And is about a young boy who could not check out a book from the library just because of the color of his skin."

2) show students picture of John Lewis. "This is John Lewis and this is the boy that this story is based off of". "He wanted to take out a book from his local library but he knew he couldn't get a library card,so he and his brothers, sisters, and cousins walked into the library anyway.The librarian told the children that the library was for whites only and not for them". " John Lewis went on to become a leader in the civil rights movement and a United States Congressman from Georgia". " We could say that John Lewis shook things up".

3)" before I read this story to you , I want to take a look at some vocabulary from the story". "When I said that John Lewis "shook things up " what do you think I meant"? "I want you to turn to your shoulder partner and take about 30 seconds to talk about what you think it means when someone "shakes things up". After 30 seconds I will ask students to raise their hands and tell what they came up with. Answers will vary . Tell class "when someone shakes things up, they are doing what is right even if it is not the popular thing to do ". "Now let's look at the word "discrimination". "Turn to your partner again and talk about what you think it means to be discriminated against".Students will talk for 30 seconds, and then raise hands to tell me what they came up with. Answers will vary. I will tell the class, "when someone is discriminated against they are treated unfairly because of their race, age, or gender". "For example women were discriminated against when they were not allowed to vote like men could, until 1920 when they were given that right".

4) Begin reading "finding Lincoln". Stop and check for understanding on page 8. Ask "what was Louis asking when he said did president Lincoln shake things up when he was a boy"? "He was asking if Abraham Lincoln stood up for what he believed in". Stop on page 9 and ask, "why do you think Louis cannot go to the main library to find a book"? "It is because he was discriminated against". Stop on page 15. "What do you think will happen when Louis goes back to the library after 5:00"? "Why do you think so"? Answers will vary. Stop on page 19 and ask "how did the librarian shake things up"? "It was because she let Louis in the library because it was the right thing to do even though she was not supposed to and she could get into a lot of trouble for doing so.". Stop on page 25 and ask "how did Louis shake things up in the story "? "He went to the library even though he knew he could get Into trouble. His bravery helped him overcome his obstacles".

5) "Turn to your partner and talk about how this story made you feel". Wait talking to slow down. "this type of discrimination went on until the end of the 1960's when the Supreme Court and federal government put an end to laws allowing racial segregation". " Libraries across the country opened their doors to everyone, and John Lewis, who we discussed earlier received an honorary library card". " Abraham Lincoln also helped to abolish Slavery in all states". Pass out construction paper to all the students . "As your exit slip, I want you to draw me a picture of how you have ever "shook things up" or of how someone that you know "shook things up". "maybe they didn't have to stand up for the color of their skin, but for their gender, age, size etc.".

My Reflection

1)Why was this particular book selected? How did it “match” the funds of knowledge of this particular class/group of students?

I chose this book because I think that it can relate to the majority of my students ethnicity wise. Over half of my students are African American, and I thought that it would hold their interest as they can more easily put themselves in the main characters shoes, rather than if the book was about a culture that fit none of my students backgrounds. My students have been introduced to discrimination, and the civil war already, but this book was able to put things into a more personal perspective. All of the students seemed to be intently listening and engaged because this book can apply to them all in one way or another, as African Americans are not the only group of people who have been discriminated against.

2) What were the strengths of the read aloud/the picture book/vocabulary teaching presentation?

I feel that my read aloud was strong in that it was very relatable. The book had nice big pictures that the students were able to clearly see under the document camera, and the vocabulary was not too far advanced. One vocabulary term that I used was “shake things up” as this was mentioned in the book a number of times. I applied this to having them tell me about a time that they were an Isely stand up (taking a stand against bullying). My other vocab word was discrimination, something that they have all been taught prior to this read aloud. Students already had a foundation of background knowledge to help them through the story. I feel that the book had an interesting topic that helped the students pay attention and want to know more.

3)What would I need to do differently next time?

Next time I would have gone more in depth with the history aspect of the story. The book was about a boy who was searching for a book about Abraham Lincoln. I could have taught about Abraham before reading the story and how he relates to this time period. I could have also taught about what else was going on in the world in the 1950’s. How it relates to the story. Even how the civil war impacted lives during that time.

4)Respond to the following open-ended statement: Implementing multicultural children’s literature that is culturally and linguistically diverse relative to my elementary students has …

A very strong impact on the way students perceive others. It is important for students to be culturally aware, not only of their own culture but to others as well. We are teaching acceptance, and how to be knowledgeable to the point where we don’t judge others for their differences, we embrace them. Every single student is an essential piece to the puzzle.