Circle Unbroken

Circle Unbroken

Book Category: Read Aloud for 3-4 graders
Author: Margot Theis Raven
Illustrator: E.B. Lewis
Copyright: (2004) New York, NY
Publisher: Melanie Kroupa Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Suggested Grade Level: 3
Lexile Level: 650L
Accelerated Reader: 3.8
Suggested Delivery: Read Aloud
Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3.2: Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
Summary: This book tells the story of a little girl’s grandmother who connects the past with the present by remembering her life as a slave. Although the book mainly sparks the girl’s interest by describing the basket-making techniques and the many uses that the baskets had on the slave plantations, the grandmother tells a story that brings back memories of her life as a slave on a plantation where she met the little girl’s grandfather. The grandparents reflect on important things that they learned and took away from their experiences as slaves. This book is a cultural and eye-opening historical fiction story that can educate those who were not alive during the time of slavery.
5 Key Words to Describe the Book: Freedom, Hopeful, Historical, Inspirational, Cultural
Electronic Resources:
  1. This website provides many resources that both teachers and students can use to learn more about slavery by watching videos, reading excerpts, and browsing for additional books about the topic of slavery:
  2. This website provides a list of books and links that teachers could incorporate into their classrooms to further educate their students on similar topics such as Black History month, slavery, the timeline of African American history, and more:
  3. This website provides many resources that support the book. It includes a summary of the book, biographies and websites of the book’s author and illustrator, interviews with the author, and book guides and lesson plans that teachers can implement to their students:
Key Vocabulary:
  • Sacred: dedicated to a religious purpose
  • Slavery: a condition in which individuals are owned by others, who control where they live and what they do for work; it had previously existed throughout history, in many times and most places
  • Auction: a public sale in which slaves were sold to the highest bidder
  • Plantation: an estate on which crops were cultivated by slave labor
  • Palmetto: a fan palm used to make baskets
  • Cassava: (also called Manihot Esculenta); a woody shrub/annual crop native to tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy root, a major source of carbohydrates
Teaching Suggestions:
  1. Before, During, After-
  • Before: Students will look at and make observations of several pictures and images that portray slavery, plantations, and the lifestyle of the people who lived during this time period (the Civil War and the 1860s).
  • During: Keep the students engaged by using post-it notes on the whiteboard. There should be five columns of post-it notes, including the main categories of “who, what, where, when, and why.” As the students listen to the read-aloud, have the students take turns writing on the post-it notes to answer these 5 W’s and add them to the board under each column to support their overall comprehension of the book. An example of this activity can be found here:

  • After: Students will complete an exit slip. They will be asked to write one paragraph talking about their own experiences that they may have had with their grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, etc. Students will reflect on a possible story that these family members may have told them that stuck with them throughout a majority of their lives, such as a memory that their grandparents may have had or a story that is constantly being passed down in their family’s generations.
  1. Writing Activity- Students will write a journal entry from the perspective of a slave. They are to write as if they were alive during the time of slavery and what their daily lives were like, who they interacted with, and how they felt. They may also include possible wishes or hopes that a slave during that time period may have wanted.
Teacher’s Guide:

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