NOTE TO TEACHERS
Teachers know that biographies are great learning tools. Teachers also know that many students, when presented with a biography, often discount them out of hand. So, how can teachers get this important material into the hands (and brains) of their students?
The answer is easy: Landmark Books. Since 1950, Landmark has offered young readers biographies that are well-written, informative, and fun. Interesting details and anecdotes help students to identify with each historical figure as a real person—one who encounters challenges, celebrates accomplishments, and endures hardships. By reading books in the Landmark series, students will not only deepen their understanding for and appreciation of history, but may very well develop a new love for biographies.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
George Washington was born an Englishman, but grew-up to become a general in the Colonial army during the American Revolution. Known as the "Father of His Country," Washingtonís life is celebrated for his contribution to Americaís freedom.
The following books are also in this guide:
Meet Christopher Columbus
Meet Abraham Lincoln
Meet Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the Classroom
These easy-to-read biographies of three of America's greatest heroes serve as brief introductions to the lives of these complex men.
The themes of leadership, courage, bravery, heroism, and freedom connect the work of these men and guide young students to a better understanding of the battle for freedom throughout our nationís history.
In addition to discussion questions related to themes, this guide offers suggestions for activities that link the language arts, social studies, art, and music curriculum.
Brainstorm the meaning of freedom with the class. Then ask students to write a paragraph about what freedom means to them. Encourage students to share their writing orally with the class.
George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were all outstanding leaders in American history. Ask students to discuss the qualities of a leader. Then ask them to cite events in the lives of each of these Americans that indicates their leadership qualities. Discuss at what age these men demonstrated their leadership abilities. Martin Luther King, Jr. didnít plan to become a minister. Why did he feel that he could better help people if he became a minister?
Ask students to define courage. Washington, Lincoln, and King each faced defeat in their lifetime, but they never gave up. Discuss the courage it took for each man to continue his dream. Based on the information in these biographies, which man do you think fought the most courageous battle? How did it take courage for Martin Luther King, Jr. to fight his battle peacefully?
Discuss the meaning of bravery. How does bravery relate to courage? How does it take bravery to be a leader? Divide the class into three groups and assign each group one of these famous Americans to discuss. Ask them to talk about the many ways each of these men showed bravery. How is their bravery celebrated today?
Discuss the qualities of a hero. It is said that George Washington was a hero to Abraham Lincoln. How might both of these men have been heroes to Martin Luther King, Jr.? Discuss why Mohandas Gandhi of India was a hero to Martin Luther King, Jr. How is each of these men a hero to all Americans?
Washington, Lincoln, and King each fought for freedom. Compare and contrast the type of freedom for which each man stood. Ask each student to take a look at the paragraph they wrote about freedom in the pre-reading activity. What might Washington, Lincoln, and King say about their interpretation of freedom?
DISCUSSION AND WRITING
• What character traits did Washington exhibit as a young man that would later serve him well as a general and as the first U.S. president?
• Why do you think that every state chose Washington to be the first president?
• Washington is known as the father of our country. What do you think this means?
• How do you think history would be different if Washington had not helped the English win the French and Indian War in 1759?
• Share a map of the United States and point out that the original 13 colonies became the first 13 states after the Revolutionary War. Provide students
with a blank template of the 13 colonies, and have them write the names of colonies in the appropriate place. Challenge students to study current maps of the Eastern United States and to locate historic sites of the Revolutionary War, such as Lexington, Trenton, Long Island, Saratoga, the Delaware River,
the East River, New York City, Yorktown, Valley Forge, and Philadelphia. Have students label their maps with these important sites.
• George Washington led a very full and exciting life. As a class, create a time line of the events in Washington’s life. Assign students the task of illustrating and writing captions for each major event.
Vocabulary/Use of Language
The vocabulary in these biographies isnít difficult, but students should be encouraged to jot down unfamiliar words and use a dictionary to look up the definitions. Such words may include:
Meet George Washington colony (p.8), surveyor (p.15), and independence (p. 45).
Meet Abraham Lincoln politics (p. 33), representative (p. 46), territory (p. 49), surrendered (p.68), and debate (p. 50).
Meet Martin Luther King, Jr. segregation (p. 15), unjust (p. 23), boycott (p. 38), and justice (p. 104).
Review for the Landmark Series
"One of the most critically acclaimed, best-selling childrenís book series ever published." The New York Times
BEYOND THE BOOK
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
This site from the Metropolitan
Museum of Art examines in detail the famous painting by Emanuel Leutze, Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851).
Visit this address for the online teachers guide to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit George Washington: A National Treasure.
ABOUT THIS GUIDE
Guide prepared by Colleen Carroll, Education Consultant, Curriculum
Writer, and Children’s Book Author, Sleepy Hollow, NY.
Random House Children’s Books • School and Library Marketing
1745 Broadway, 10-4, New York, NY 10019 • BN0606 • 12/06
Abraham Lincoln by Ingrid D'Aulaire[978-0-440-40690-7]
My Dream of Martin Luther King by Faith Ringold[978-0-517-59976-1]
Toliver's Secret by Esther Wood Brady[978-0-679-84804-2]
Click here to download the Teacher's Guide PDF