Thursday, October 25, 2012

Title:  Elijah of Buxton (Curtis, C. P. (2007). Elijah of Buxton. New York: Scholastic Press).

Author:  Christopher Paul Curtis

Copyright:  2007 by Christopher Paul Curtis

Published by:  Scholastic Press, New York

Reading level:  Interest level grades 3-5, Grade level Equivalent 7.8, Accelerated Reader 5.4, Lexile 1070L

Awards:  2008 Coretta Scott King Award & 2008 Newbery Honor

Suggested delivery:  Independent or guided reading


Honorable, Inspiring, Intriguing, Exciting, Unforgettable

Electronic resources to support reading:

a.      This is an Elijah of Buxton book movie trailer for students to view before they read the book.  The brief movie trailer will inspire students to read this intriguing novel after meeting the author and visually seeing and hearing about the book.  Motivating students to create a desire to read is imperative for the ultimate engagement and comprehension of the text.

a.      This website provides students with a complete study guide and summary materials to deepen the understanding of Elijah of Buxton.  This website focuses on plot summaries, quotes, character analysis, and object/place analysis.  The students can use this on their own to accompany their reading or the teacher can assign the students frequent website visits here after each chapter to sharpen their interpretation of the text.  This website also includes suggested topics for discussion and quizzes the teacher can use in the classroom.

a.      This is the official site for the North American black historical museum which will help students make connections among Canadian black history and United States black history.  Students can use this as a research website to collect evidence and factual information to help build connections between the text and actual history.

Teaching Suggestions:

1.      Vocabulary:

a.      Brogans (pg 42)

b.      Commotion (pg 43)

c.       Ignorant (pg 91)

d.      Rapscallion (pg 122)

e.      Trifled (pg 123)

f.        Whilst (pg 133)

g.      Clopped (pg 133)

h.      Refuge (pg 195)

i.        Parlour (pg 200)

2.      Teaching Strategies

a.      Before reading: 

                                                              i.      This book is based in the 1800’s and it is imperative that students gain a historical understanding of what life was like back then.  Students can research the 1800’s (specifically 1850- 1900- when this story is based) and make a timeline to visually see a sequence of significant events that took place in history.  This will help students identify with the characters in Elijah of Buxton and better understand emotions and actions characters feel and contribute to the story.

                                                            ii.      Conduct a class discussion about the Underground Railroad. Such questions can lead the discussion: “Why was it called a "railroad"? What was the role of the conductor? Ask students to visit some of the "stations" in various states along the routes ( How did the slaves know that these "stations" were safe?” (

b.      During reading: 

                                                              i.      Students can discuss throughout their reading after each chapter in small groups by summarizing the plot, character emotions, and reason for actions, theme(s), and finding evidence to support each claim.  The teacher can have each group make an outline of the chapter with significant events and briefly present to the classroom their discoveries.  This will especially support students who possess a lower level of inferential comprehension by providing them the opportunity to make connections with the text and theme(s) of the story during their reading to help them better understand the text.

                                                            ii.      Additional during reading discussion questions for teachers can be found on:

c.       After reading:  Students can demonstrate their comprehension and interpretation of the text by making a picture book, series of illustrations, poster board, or power point to present to the class regarding what the major theme(s) of Elijah of Buxton were and characters emotions throughout the text.  Students must provide specific examples from the text to support their ideas and interpretation with factual evidence and must cite the text.  This activity can be completed as an individual assignment or within pairs or small groups.

3.      Writing Activity:

a.      “Write a letter that Elijah Freeman might write to Frederick Douglass relating his experience as the youngest conductor on the Underground Railroad. Explain how this journey changes Elijah's life” (  This activity has been modified from 

b.      Students can also connect to writing in other content areas, such as social studies, by “hav[ing] students take a virtual journey on the Underground Railroad ( Write a brief paper titled "My Journey to Freedom."  Find out about the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Why did this law make it risky for African Americans living in the Settlement, which was in Canada, to cross over to Detroit, which was in the USA? How did the law make it unsafe even for those born in freedom, like Elijah Freeman?” ( 

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