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Core Curriculum - Fifth Grade

Civil War - Slavery

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt (picture book)
by Deborah Hopkinson, ISBN: 069874720, Scholastic
Clara, a slave and seamstress on Home Plantation, knows that the Underground Railroad can lead her to freedom. The only problem is, How to find it? By piecing together scraps of cloth with scraps of information gathered from the other slaves, she fashions a map so secret that even the master won't suspect as she walks to freedom and leaves her quilt so that others may follow. Paintings by James Ransome

To Be A Slave
by Julius Lester, ISBN: 0590424602, Scholastic
This is a book about how it felt to be a slave. The story is told in the actual words of slaves, with Lester filling in details to explain. It covers areas of slavery such as the auction block, life on a plantation, the slaves' resistance to slavery, including escape stories, the emancipation of slaves, and even life after emancipation.

Note: The story paints a good picture of slavery for children without extreme graphics of beatings, etc.

Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters
by Patricia C. McKissack and Fredrick L. McKissack, ISBN: 0439145422, Scholastic
Those who ate dinner in the Big House and danced the cakewalk in the Quarters during Christmas, 1859, didn't know that a war would be fought in their fields and woods. Or that some of the old plantation houses would be burned or used as military headquarters or hospitals. They didn't know that cholera would kill thousands of the newly freed slaves. They didn't know that thousands of soldiers would die. They were just enjoying Christmas as it had been for the past decade.

Note: Notes in the back of the book tell details and interpret things that are talked about in the story.

Get on Board: The Story of the Underground Railroad
by Jim Haskins, ISBN: 0590454196 Scholastic
This is an information book telling about the underground railroad that reads like a novel. The reader will learn how the underground railroad got its name and how it really functioned. It covers the history of slave escapes (some were harrowing, nail-biting, escapades). Also explained are the stations and tracks, stationmasters, conductors, and the passengers. It gives particular detail to Harriet Tubman, the woman called Moses, and John Brown, a fugitive slave. Included are pictures of white people who helped the cause, as well as black people who risked their lives to escape and then to return to help others.

Note: Great reading silently or out loud as a class. It could even be broken down into sections, and have a different group report on each section, or even write a reader's theater for their section, and present it.)

The Amistad Slave Revolt and American Abolition
by Karen Zeinert, ISBN: 0208024395, Linnet
In 1839, fifty-three West Africans aboard La Amistad, a ship bound for Puerto Principe, Cuba revolted. After taking control of the ship, the blacks ordered two plantation owners to sail them back to Africa. Instead the cunning hostages slowly worked the ship into American waters. At Long Island, New York the Amnestied, its cargo and crew were seized and taken to Connecticut. The Amnestied blacks were changed with murder and piracy. For two years the Amnestied incident was in the court system. During their detention the Africans were civilized and taught English, converted to Christianity, and shown off for the abolitionist cause. After two long years some of the Africans were returned to their beloved homeland, Mende country in Sierra Leone. This is a well researched incident with many first hand accounts, and pictures.

Note: A 33-minute full color video titled The Amnestied Revolt - All We Want is Make Us Free is made for students. The information is listed on page 95.

The Well
by Mildred D. Taylor
During a severe drought, the Logan family share their sweet, fresh well water with anyone in need, Black or White. The Simms boys hate the Logans because they are colored folk, and do their best to torment the Logan boys. Tensions build until the Simms' boys decide to contaminate the well by putting dead animals down in the water. Their father finally recognizes their hatred and consequences do follow. The beauty of the book is the Logan mother quietly teaching unconditional caring for others, Black or White, and a lesson on dignity is learned. A good read-aloud book to generate discussion about racial tension and justice.

The War

A Nation Torn
by Delia Ray, ISBN: 0590214160, Scholastic
A Nation Torn describes the crucial events leading to the War Between the States and brings to life the unforgettable individuals of that era, from the eloquent peacemaker Henry Clay, to Harriet Tubman, the courageous conductor to the Underground Railroad, and the fanatical abolitionist John Brown. Including letters, diaries, eyewitness accounts, and many vintage photographs are shared with the reader.

Bull Run
by Paul Fleischman, ISBN: 0590474081, Scholastic
This book recreates the first great battle of the Civil War from the points of view of six, teenage participants, Northern and Southern, male and female, white and black. There are voices that tell of the dreams of glory, the grim reality, the hopes, horror, and folly of a nation discovering the true nature of war.

Note: Use as a novel or as readers' theater

Mr. Lincoln's Drummer
by G. Clifton Wisler, ISBN: 0140385428, Puffin
Ten-year-old Willie Johnston is too young to be a soldier in Mr. Lincoln's army. So he joins as a drummer boy instead. Part of Willie's job is rousing the troops in the morning with his drum the other part is being the last to retreat in battles. In this true story, Willie shows he's brave enough to keep beating his drum and becomes the youngest ever to qualify for the nation's highest military honor. This book blends truth and fiction into a story that tells how it really was to be in the Civil War.

The Boys' War
by Jim Murphy, ISBN: 0590456040, Scholastic
This is the story of thousands of boys who fought in the Civil War. Based on diary entries and letters. This book tells all about their war: why they joined, what they wore, how they lived, what they ate, if they survived, if they didn't. You'll go with them from the homestead to the training camps right into the heat of battle. And by the end, you'll know them.

Note: Graphic pictures of war,

Behind the Lines
by Isabelle Holland, ISBN: 0590451146, Scholastic
It is 1863, and the Irish are angry because they are expected to fight in the War Between the States. The story is told through the eyes of Katie O'Farrell, whose father is angry that the Irish are expected to fight in a battle that isn't theirs to fight. Katie is torn between not wanting her brother, Brian, to go to war, and understanding why there needs to be a war. She faces several moral dilemmas in the story. One is whether she should go against her employers and warn Brian that they want to pay him money to go fight in their son's place (a common practice during the war). She ultimately learns through a friendship with Jimmy that race and class don't have to determine how she thinks, or whom she can like.

Note: There is a graphic description of the New York draft riots that occurred during this time period.

The Journal of James Edmond Pease
by Jim Murphy, ISBN: 059043814X, Scholastic
This is a book in the My Name Is America series. It is a journal of a fictitious Civil War Union soldier. It takes place in Virginia in 1863, and chronicles the experiences of James Edward Pease, who was told to keep a record of what he does from day to day. This eyewitness account spans the time period from November to May of one year. The reader will get a feel of what the long tedious marches were like, how it feels to see a buddy killed, what war was really like, but also the feeling of homesickness as James recognizes that war is probably never good, even if it is for a good cause.

A Ballad of the Civil War
by Mary Stolz, ISBN: 0590819267, Scholastic
Tom and Jack were as close as close could be. And Aaron, a slave boy at Rigby Plantation, was almost as close to the twins as they were to each other. Tom didn't dream that anything could ever come between them and that is where the story begins. This story is inspired by a nineteenth-century ballad that tells of two brothers that end up facing each other as enemies during the Civil War and what brought them to that place in life.

For Home and Country
by Norman Bolotin and Anela Herb, ISBN: 059099736X, Scholastic
The Civil War was the most devastating conflict in U.S. history. In For Home and Country A Civil War Scrapbook, you will find a overview of the war. This scrapbook is packed with photographs, diaries, and letters as well as printed wallpapers, stories, news clippings, and advertisements. Here is the record of the war as soldiers on the battlefield and their loved ones at home confronted a war-torn country.

A Light in the Storm, the Civil War Diary of Amelia Martin
by Karen Hesse, ISBN: 0590567330, Scholastic
This is not a lighthearted book but one of how to overcome struggles. 15-year-old Amelia Martin assists her father as they take care of the lighthouse on Fenwick Island in Delaware at the beginning of the Civil War. Sides are taken, father stays with the lighthouse and mother moves away from it. This book speaks to us of the war on the water and how important lighthouses were/are.

Note: Civil War history is told in the back of the book. This book has hard adult themes in the breakup of mother and father and war.