Ellen's Broom

By Kelly Starling Lyons

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Ellen's Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons Illustrated by Daniel Minter

Published by Published by G. P. Putman’s Sons, an Imprint of Penguin Group, Inc. in January 2012.

The read aloud is planned for third graders. "Ellen's Broom" is where a young girl discovers a family tradition. After all former slaves living as husband and wife can now legally have their unions recognized. This book has been recognized with many honors:

  • 2013 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor
  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • 2013 Bank Street Best Children's Books of the Year
  • 2013 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
  • 2013 North Carolina Children's Book Award Nominee

"Ellen's Broom" is a touching picture book set during Reconstruction that celebrates family, love and freedom. The colorful and meaningful illustrations draw attention, and help make connections in young readers minds. This book was inspired by a document that author saw while researching her family history in Rockingham County, NC and Henry County, VA.
Jump over broom - married!

Key Vocabulary

Tradition - the beliefs and ways of doing things that are passed down from parents to children

Freedom - act or move as one wishes

(ask the class if they have any traditions at home)

(ask if they can tell me anything about freedom)

Examples of Traditions:

Eating dinner together as a family

Having breakfast for dinner

Taking a picture by the door on the first day of school

Making and decorating cookies (candies, gingerbread houses or men, etc.

Talking Notes:

Before the Book:

Can you describe what you see on the front cover? (a girl, flowers, a broom)

Do you think the story will be a happy or sad one? Why?

I see the words, "a young girl discovers a family tradition" what is a tradition?

(flip to the back cover)

What do we see back here? (the broom, the girl, a family, "a rare story about family and the meaning of freedom)

What is above the fire place? (the broom)

What did we say freedom was? (having the right to act how you wish)

During the Book:

Why do you think they are free? (13th amendment, slavery is abolished)

Can you tell me something significant about what you see when the family is at the court house?

Why do you think papa had such a reaction to Ellen asking for them to jump over the broom?

What is a broom wedding? (to start a new life together)

After the Book:

From what I read, What tradition does Ellen want to continue on?

What freedom was allowed in the story about Ellen?

Write a tradition that you have in your family.


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

This book was chosen in parts. I selected this book partly on the fact that my class had just learned about the constitution and the amendments it consists of. By them having an understanding of the 13th amendment they were able to grasp the emotion that the book presented. The other part of the book was to elaborate that in our community we all have different traditions.

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

The strengths of the presentation and the read aloud; was that I benefited from the students having prior knowledge of the vocabulary selected. The class was actively participating with my read aloud, during I developed even more questions during the read aloud that prospered deeper thinking from the class,

• What would I need to do differently next time?

I need to change how I close a lesson. After we finished all of our questions from the read aloud; I had no idea where to take them next. The students just sat and stared at me. Next time instead of waiting and watching their stares, I need to instruct them to go back to their seats and get start on the next task.

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

Given them an insight into cultures they don't have much exposure to. It gets more conservation going about what makes up each of their own cultures as individuals.