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Because Claudette

Because Claudette

illustrated by Tonya Engel

This picture book biography celebrates both Claudette Colvin, whose teen-aged activism launched the Montgomery bus boycott, and the power of collective action.
Because Claudette

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Claudette owed at least part of who she was to what she learned from those who came before her–Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass. Choices she made were influenced by the choices of others “to work hard and [cause] trouble so Black people would be treated fairly.” When you read aloud Because Claudette, get students thinking about who has greatly inspired them and how historical figures and events have influenced who they are.

Share your own story with students about someone from your life and their influence on you. Then ask students to think about people from their past who have had an impact on them—a family member, friend, neighbor, teacher, coach, or someone else. Have students create a poem that looks back on how that person or people shaped who they are today, using the format in this example:

I am a reader
Because of Mrs. Jeter
Because she was a good teacher
Because she let me pick out whatever books I wanted
Because she had lots of books in her classroom
Because her mother was a librarian
I am a reader

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

  1. What does the word “because” mean?
  2. Who was Claudette and what did she do? If you were Claudette, what would you do in her situation?
  3. Why was she arrested? Why do you think Claudette’s classmates did not treat her as a hero after she was arrested?
  4. Who was Rosa Parks? What did Claudette have in common with her?
  5. How did Claudette create change? What impact did she have on the Civil Rights Movement? How is that impact felt today?
  6. Who inspired Claudette? How do you carry her history with you?

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