Web: In the Public Domain

Anybody who loves 18th century literature has heard of Project Gutenberg and similar online methods of obtaining books which no longer have a copyright, but when we browse these websites, it is often easier to find books with racist commentary or ideologies than to source books by authors of color.  Today I have a few sources to help you.

The list Black Writers in the Public Domain has a variety of genres available mostly through Gutenberg, but also from some other Public Domain sites.

The same website also has a review of a novel called The Conjure Woman, which is set in the antebellum South and was written by a black journalist.

There are two bookshelves available on Project Gutenberg.  One is African-American Writers, and the other (which has some overlap) is the Slavery bookshelf.  The Slavery bookshelf has some international writers, but is mainly about African-American slavery, which means it includes abolitionist writings by white authors.

Following this rabbit hole eventually brought me to The Antislavery Literature Project, which is all about trying to source original texts about the American antislavery movement from a variety of public domain sources and link them in their database.  This includes writings by white abolitionists as well as trying to source a variety of early writings by authors of color.  Their website is helpful for finding items from smaller digitization projects and gives a brief synopsis of each work.

If you’d like to do a unit on poetry by black authors, poets.org is a great starting place.  They have biographies, essays on, and at least one or two poems by everyone from well-known poets like Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou to comparatively newer poets like Claudia Rankine.

This website is full of sources for teachers, including recommended poems for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Black History Month and other occasions, searchable by poetic form.  Get even more in-depth for Black History Month with this part of the site that includes poems, essays, and original source documents.  There are also areas for movements like the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts.  I’ve only covered the African-American areas, but this site is pretty good about including poets from a variety of traditions and ethnic backgrounds; if you’re interested in poetry, it’s definitely worth a look!

Oh, and for a starter, here’s an anthology of poems, The African American Experience.  I’m reading this and a nonfiction book from the first list electronically and enjoying both.

Advertisements

Review: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

A very basic text explaining the holiday to very young students.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day by Robin Nelson.
First Step Nonfiction, Lerner Publications Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2003.
Early reader non-fiction, 23 pages including glossary and index.
Lexile: not yet leveled
AR Level: 2.1 (worth 0.5 points)

This is a very basic early reader as part of a formulaic series for preschool to first or maybe second grade learners.  It is typically marketed to teachers and schools as part of a holidays set, which is how I acquired it.

mlk-jr-day-robin-nelson-resized
Martin Luther King Jr. Day by Robin Nelson

Continue reading “Review: Martin Luther King Jr. Day”

Review: Happy Birthday, MLK

This picture book has been a staple of classroom celebrations for more than a decade.

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo, illustrated by J. Brian Pinkney.
Scholastic, New York, 1993.
Picture book nonfiction, 28 pages.
Lexile: 800L
AR Level: 4.2 (worth 0.5 points)

This simple text describes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and death to help children understand why we celebrate on the third Monday of January.  It is titled Happy Birthday because originally MLK day was on January 15th to commemorate his birthday, but it became a move-able celebration when it became a federal holiday.

mlk-happy-birthday-mlk-resized
Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo, illustrated by J. Brian Pinkney

Here we have an all-star team who really know their audience and work splendidly together.  Marzollo is best known these days for her I Spy books, and prolific illustrator (and sometime author) Brian Pinkney has many books about African-American history and culture.

Continue reading “Review: Happy Birthday, MLK”