Book-Based Skill Builders
In Order for Justice
based on Rosa
by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier
View and print the student activity sheet (PDF)
About the Book
Rosa Parks was one of the most important figures in the civil rights movement. Her courage and strength was evident as she took a stand against the injustice of the separate but equal doctrine that the Supreme Court had already ruled unconstitutional. The book takes a personal look at Rosa and what led to her December 1, 1955 nonviolent protest. Rosa then takes the reader through subsequent civil rights events that helped change American History.
Set the Stage
Use the following to get the students ready to read.
- Discuss the title and cover of the book.
- Without telling the students about Rosa, talk about the woman and the man on the cover.
- What can the expressions and stances of the man and women tell about their relationship?
- Ask students if they have heard of Rosa Parks. Discuss what they do know about her.
- Talk about the concepts of segregation, civil rights, and nonviolent protest.
- Have students make predictions about what the book will be about.
After reading the book, discuss the following:
- Discuss the types of jobs that Mr. and Mrs. Parks worked. Were they wealthy people? Were they active in politics or community affairs?
- Discuss with students the reality of segregation in the south. Talk about the typical bus ride for an African American in the south at that time.
- What was Rosa thinking about that enabled her to be so courageous and stay in her seat on the bus? When presented with injustice, even in small circumstances, could you stand up for what is right? Talk about injustices that you may be witnessing in your community today. What could you do about it?
- Why did the policeman call Rosa “Auntie?”
- Discuss the term boycott.
- Why was what Jo Ann Robinson did so important? How did it make what Rosa did have so much more impact?
- Why was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. able to take the bus boycott to a national level? What else do you know about Dr. King?
- How do we know the boycott was successful?
- Discuss the quote on the last page of the book. “The integrity, the dignity, the quiet strength of Rosa Parks turned her no into a YES for change.” What is meant by this statement? Do you agree with it? How can those three characteristics be so influential?
Use this activity to help reinforce the students’ comprehension of this book and understanding of the civil rights movement.
To extend the students’ comprehension of the book, try these:
- You are there!: Have students write a series of newspaper articles detailing Rosa Parks’ arrest and the boycott that followed. Students can use books or the internet to find their facts. They should include the answer to “who,” “what,” “when,” “why,” and “how.”
- Now and Then: Have students make a chart comparing and contrasting life for African Americans before and after the civil rights movement. Discuss the differences and what other changes still need to be made.
- The Pictures Speak: The illustrations in Rosa were done by award winning illustrator Bryan Collier. They are used to support the text and help the reader visualize the action. Choose one illustration from the book. Write a paragraph on the message Collier was trying to portray. Then create your own illustration using various mediums to convey the same or similar message.
- Quiet Justice: The last page of the book says, “The integrity, the dignity, the quiet strength of Rosa Parks turned her no into a YES for change.” Rosa protested in a nonviolent way. Her “no” on the bus was the beginning of an important step in the civil rights movement. Many other nonviolent protests took place. Have students research other such protests. Have students write a short explanation about two of the other protests. Discuss how this quote from the book is true of others who participated in nonviolent protests.
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