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Destination Discrimination: Navigating the Highways of Segregated America with Trade Books

Teaching a civil rights unit in the upper elementary grades can be difficult. Educators must sort through multiple resources, determine the quality and developmental appropriateness of the materials, synthesize and organize the resources into meaningful lessons, and teach the unit in the midst of pressures to minimize or eliminate social studies in deference to tested subjects. Many elementary teachers find this a daunting task, which they avoid. The authors suggest a “depth over breadth” model focused around children’s literature texts and primary sources. This article reviews selected trade books, identifies pertinent themes associated with automobile travel, and discusses questions that will facilitate an intensive classroom exploration of this period of American history.
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