The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton - Poet written and illustrated by Don Tate

    Summary: This is the story of a man who was born with words inside of him – words full of life and love and wonder. Poetic words, musical words, profound and philosophical words. However, young George Moses Horton was enslaved. There would be no formal education for this brilliant boy. And, yet, he was driven to find a way to express the poetry he had composed in his mind. At first, he learned the alphabet by listening to the white children’s lessons. Then he taught himself how to read his mother’s hymnal.  Eventually, after a series of remarkable events and opportunities, George Moses Horton grew to become the first southern African-American man to be published. Once George learned how to read he published his writing in a journal. Discover how George Moses Horton dealt with adversity, including a law passed so that it was illegal for a slave to learn how to read and was inspired to break the chains of freedom.
    Genre: Historical Fiction
    Before Reading: What is a poet? Why is it important to read and write? Compare the life of black people living in the south in the 1800s and life in 2000s to include transportation, jobs, clothing, entertainment and school/education.
    During Reading: Where was George from? How was his life different than other slaves? How did George learn how to read? Why did George leave his family? Why did the students pay George? Why was it illegal for slaves to read? How did George feel when he was no longer allowed to learn how to read?
    After Reading: Describe how George changed from the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
    Lesson Objectives: This lesson will assist students with understanding the historical fiction genre and themes such as poetry, African-American history, slavery and freedom as well as analyzing text for details related to time frame and cultural details. Students will also be able to write in response to literature.
    1. Write an essay about George Moses Horton:
      1. Describe George Moses Horton’s character and his childhood.
      2. Write about the trials that George had to overcome.
      3. Identify George Moses Horton’s greatest accomplishment.
      4. Tell how George Moses Horton’s accomplishments helped mankind.
    2. Use the following quote from the book and write about it:
    “His verses swayed with emotion, like the music of Sunday services. They kept him strong as he grew up to be a young man.”
    1. The word remarkable means extraordinary and unusual. Discuss why George Moses Horton’s ability to compose poetry was an extraordinary skill. Explain why committing his poems to memory was an unusual thing to do.
    1. Explain how words can keep someone strong. Tell why George Moses Horton had to remain strong. In what ways was George Moses Horton’s childhood a remarkable one?