This summer my 8th grade students read Warrior’s Don’t Cry, Melba Pattillo Beals’ memoir detailing the emotional and physical abuse she endured as one of the nine students to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, AK in 1957. This personal story, from a teenager’s perspective, offers insight into Beals’ struggles between being a “normal” teenager and a freedom fighter for racial integration.
I had read about a writing and art activity in an article written by Linda Christensen for the Zinn Education Project called Literary Postcards. Christensen’s article details the variety of activities she employed in her classroom to help her students’ read deeply and understand the historical impact Beals’ experience had on American history.
I had my students complete Literary Postcards and I was in awe of their writing and drawing abilities. Using oversized note cards, students drew pictures of significant scenes from the book on one side of the “postcard.” Then, on the other side of the post card the student wrote a poem, letter, diary entry or monologue from one character to another explaining what happened in that moment. The written part is not meant to retell the scene, but to understand the scene from an personal perspective. Below are some of the postcards my students created.