by Linda Bevilacqua, President, Core Knowledge Foundation
In the wake of recent events across America, the Core Knowledge Foundation has received a number of inquiries from educators asking for guidance as to how they can ensure that their students become familiar with the history and experiences of all Americans. While the resources suggested below, many of which are available for free download on the Core Knowledge website, are by no means exhaustive, we offer them as a place to start.
If you are not familiar with the Core Knowledge History and Geography (CKHG) program for Kindergarten-Grade 6, please do take a look at this comprehensive set of instructional materials in world and American history and geography, integrating topics in civics and the arts. The CKHG materials, based on the topics from the Core Knowledge Sequence, are available for free download from our website, as well as for purchase.
For example, the history, experiences, and contributions of Black Americans are interwoven throughout the CKHG materials. See:
CKHG Grade 1 Early Explorers and Settlers
CKHG Grade 2 Civil Rights Leaders
CKHG Grade 3 Thirteen Colonies
CKHG Grade 4 The American Revolution
CKHG Grade 4 American Reformers
CKHG Grade 6 Reform in Industrial America
The following CKLA instructional materials are also available for free download:
CKLA Grade 4 Brown Girl Dreaming
In this title, the author, Jacqueline Woodson, describes in emotionally charged and evocative language the life of an African American girl growing up in the South and in New York in the 1960s and 1970s during a pivotal period of American history. The book has received numerous awards.
CKLA Grace Abounding
Core Knowledge also offers another publication, Grace Abounding: The Core Knowledge Anthology of African-American Literature, Music and Art, which schools and/or libraries may be interested in purchasing.
Other cultures, such as those of Native and Hispanic Americans, as well as the cultures and experiences of the many immigrants to the United States, are also represented in various Core Knowledge Foundation resources. See, for example:
CKHG Grade 1 Early Civilizations of the Americas
CKHG Grade 1 The Culture of Mexico
CKHG Grade 2 Americans Move West
CKHG Grade 3 The Earliest Americans
CKHG Grade 5 Maya, Aztec, and Inca Civilizations
CKHG Grade 5 Westward Expansion Before the Civil War
CKHG Grade 5 Native Americans and Westward Expansion: Cultures and Conflicts
CKHG Grade 6 Independence for Latin America
The following CKLA instructional materials are also available for free download:
CKLA Grade 5 They Call Me Guero
The author of this book, David Bowles, grew up as a “border kid” in Texas. His poetry describes what it is like to grow up on the border of two places, as well as some of the experiences and challenges faced by the American Hispanic community.
Core Classic, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Core Knowledge also offers a Core Classic, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, which schools and/or libraries may also be interested in purchasing. A free teacher’s guide is available for free download.
Grades 3-5 CKSci
Also check out the biographies of African American scientists included in several units of Grades 3-5 CKSci.
See the biographies of George Washington Carver, Lewis Latimer, Katherine Johnson and Rufus Stokes.
There are also many wonderful trade books, i.e. books by other writers and publishers, available from various booksellers; here are some titles that we have read and encourage you to review and consider for inclusion in your classroom or school library:
- Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel
- Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle
- Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by Janice N.Harrington
- Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker
- Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreno Played the Piano for President Lincoln by Marguerita Engle
- Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
- Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser
- Frida Kahlo and her Animalitos by Monica Brown
- Fry Bread: A Native American Story by Kevin Noble Maillard (could also be used with older students)
- Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers (could also be used with older students)
- Hidden Figures:The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly with Winifred Conkling
- I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy
- Just Ask! By Sonia Sotomayer
- Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson (could also be used with older students)
- Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed
- Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper
- My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey by Jeanne Walker Harvey
- Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre by Anika Aldamuy Denise
- Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe
- Ruby Head High: Ruby Bridges First Day of School by Irene Cohen-Janca (could also be used with older students)
- Schomberg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford
- She Persisted: Thirteen American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton
- That is My Dream by Langston Hughes and Daniel Miyares (could also be used with older students)
- The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi (could also be used with older students)
- The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
- The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethyl L. Payne by Lesa Cline-Ransome
- The Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist by Julie Leung
- The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander (could also be used with older students)
- The Youngest Marcher: TheStory of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson
- Thurgood by Jonah Winter
- Turning Pages – My Life Story by Sonia Sotomayer
- Where Are You From? by Jaime Kim
Upper Elementary Grades
- 90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis
- Adventurous Women: Eight True Stories About Women Who Made A Difference by Penny Colman
- Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
- Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan
- Hidden Figures: Young Readers’ Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly
- Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate
- I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
- Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
- Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice by Bryan Stevenson
- One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes
- Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
- Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth
- Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson
- Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson by Katherine Johnson
- Shaking Things Up: Fourteen Young Women Who Changed the World by Susan Hood
- The Beloved World Of Sonia Sotomayer by Sonia Sotomayer
- The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
- The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
- We Fed America: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time by Jose Andres
- We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson
- We’ve Got A Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levison
For Additional Resources, we suggest that you also visit the following websites:
Embrace Race – The Embrace Race website provides free resources, including video clips, blog posts, and tip sheets for talking with students about race, racism, and how to make changes.
Facing History and Ourselves – The Facing History and Ourselves website provides free resources for teachers and students to address racism, antisemitism, and prejudice at pivotal moments in history.
Teaching Tolerance – The mission of Teaching Tolerance is to help teachers and schools educate children and youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy.
Finally, it is worth noting that the Core Knowledge Foundation is in the process of updating the Core Knowledge Sequence. While there are already references to the history, experiences, and contributions of many Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans, we anticipate including others who have contributed in various ways to the story of America. If you have suggestions as to other individuals that we ought to include in the revised Sequence, please let us know by completing this survey.
9 comments on “Diversity in Core Knowledge”
This is an excellent way to change the narrative portrayed in US education for so long. Young people need to know their history told from several perspectives in order for them to have a better understanding of who they are and how they can make a positive impact on their community and the world. I do not live in the US, nor am I a US citizen, but I understand the need to ensure that history is told holistically instead of skewed in one direction or another. For example, here in St. Lucia and the rest of the Caribbean, some of our history as it relates to the indigenous people is lost due to lack of proper records, and so our history focuses a lot on our European and African heritage. This does not tell our full story, and it would be so beneficial to our people if we had resources such as these.
Wonderful information has been shared on diversity in Core Knowledge. So interesting. Hope to see many more posts. Thank you.
This is the first alternative curriculum option I have seen for teaching core curriculum social studies topics, and I plan to incorporate this alongside my district’s curriculum. Our history is often a sensitive and difficult topic, and I want to ensure I am providing learning opportunities that explore this topic from all sides, rather than through only one lens. It is my duty as an educator to make sure the content I teach is accurate and unbiased, and many times our current curriculum in the area of social studies can make that challenging.
Additionally, I really appreciate the resources for books to include for a diverse classroom library. Reading provides so many opportunities for identifying oneself and connecting to stories and characters. I want to ensure I have a library filled with resources that allow my students to see themselves and make connections, rather than feel alienated and excluded by the content. This is one of the most comprehensive list of books I have found, and I will definitely be searching for many of these for myself.
I too plan on using this along with my district’s timeline!
I am looking forward to having as many resources as this has provided!
It is excellent to know that the Core Knowledge website has many available resources on the history of people from different nations. I hope that teachers and parents will view the resources and use them to help students to know more about their history. Kelly (2008) stated that many people that live in America do not know how they became Americans. Their families do not know their history. No one told them that years ago, someone from Europe came to America, and that person is why they are here. Students need to know their history to know who they are, and parents should know their history and tell it to their children. According to Tailly (2012), Garvey once said: persons that do not know their history, culture, and origin is like a tree that has no roots.
Kelly, E. (2008). The melting pot. Salem Author Services
Tailly, J. L. (2012). We are joseph: How African Americans can unlock ultimate success, find true fulfillment, and bring healing to their people. Xlibris US
The free resources that are available for all grades with a variety of topics are a great way to include history in everyday teaching. I have already gotten my hands on the Third Grade Skills set! I recommend anyone who is reading this blog to go ahead and get theirs too!
The group of students I teach will benefit so much from learning about different cultures.
Having free resources like these available for teachers is exceptional! One of the hardest things to teach is social studies, given the viewpoint that many of our textbooks are written in, which do not include many viewpoints for our students to explore the subjects in more depth. It is exceptionally difficult to teach social studies from a diverse group of perspectives while being considerate of your students and their families.
These resources are valuable, even so in today’s America. With so many divisive arguments, it is great to be able to offer children of all ages perspectives from people who represent all of America then and now. Representation matters and students of all backgrounds can benefit from the infusion of these texts in the classroom. Current events have children and teens asking questions and what better way to provide context with different perspectives on history than with these resources. For so many years, history has been taught without referencing crucial events in American History that include people from all nations. It is important that children and families understand their history, their roots, and backgrounds. Both children and adults who have a better understanding of who they are can better serve their communities, needs, and change the future. I am sure these will be a positive contribution in all classrooms. Thank you for your inclusive and diverse resources!
I completely agree with you. that we need to have a high level of diverse representation in our materials for our students especially given the diversity among our students’ backgrounds. We have taught for so long from one perspective that our students are not being given the opportunity to personally connect with all of our history. Providing our students with a variety of perspectives would give them the ability to connect and comprehend our past on a deeper level. Making it so our students feel included in what we call our history is extremely important to drive their want to learn and interest. I too think that it would cause them to serve their communities better and help with changing the future in a more positive way.