When we chose to build our family through adoption, we knew we would always look different. But at the time, I didn’t think that MADE us different. We are, after all, just a family. We are just humans who love one another and Jesus, trying to make our way in this world, teaching, loving, and growing with one another. But what I’ve come to learn (and love) is that we are inherently different, because three of us have beautiful, brown skin. While we are all image-bearers of God, that image looks different to the outside world. Which is why Black History Month means so much to me.
Black History Month is a time to celebrate and intentionally focus on the different achievements and contributions of those of color. When we are intentional to incorporate Black History Month homeschool lessons, we teach our children that the contributions of all are equally as memorable and important, and that our differences are both beautiful and purposeful. And we do this through our reading because it’s easy and natural. Here are some ways our family works Black History Month lesson plans into our homeschool routine through reading.
Read black authors
This is pretty basic (duh!), but also a powerful way to honor Black History Month. Words are inspiring. Words are moving. Words connect us to others through our heart and soul. So, reading literature, poetry, and even non-fiction by authors of color, will better connect you to their heart and soul. Older students will love Langston Hughes, Zora Neal Hurston, Maya Angelou, and Alice Walker. But you may find something new or surprising on this list of modern authors or this short list of the most famous for kids.
This year, we are spending some time reading through the amazing poetry of black authors, put together by Dr. Maya Angelou in the “Dream in Color” series. You may hear and see some of your own experiences, and you may get a deeper understanding of the struggles those of color have experienced. You will certainly be moved. And maybe you’ll become a dreamer along with Mr. Hughes.
Read about scientific discoveries
There have been countless contributions from people of color to the field of science, but this area is often most under-represented in modern education. It’s very inspiring — and downright exciting — to read about African American scientists who revolutionized farming, made discoveries in animal behavior, and spent time in space. Choose your favorite (or a few!) and create a poster, write a research paper, or complete a report, and share it with your family and friends. Science should be shared, and these amazing men and women will inspire your budding astronauts and chemists to dig deeper and explore more!
Read about historical experiences
If there’s anything that having a black child has taught me (beyond tons of hair-care methods) it’s that being different is wonderful, but it is still different. The experiences of my black daughter are not like my experiences at her age. So, reading about the experiences of those of color helps us better connect with and understand them — and ourselves! The National Education Association has done a wonderful job of categorizing lessons for different grade levels, all of which dive into what those of color have experienced and accomplished in American history. We also love this video from PBS “Many Rivers to Cross.” These are hard realities to dive into, but oh so important!
For many of us, turning on the TV or reading a newspaper brings such heartache and concern. However, making our world more loving, and honoring of all of God’s children, starts with our own. By celebrating and teaching about the differences among us in achievements, gifts, and experiences, we can slowly turn the tide of division to unity. Use Black History Month lesson plans to instill in your children a respect for all, and an awareness of what makes America great.