Amazing Grace Discussion Guide
In Amazing Grace, Grace's classmates discourage her from trying out for Peter Pan in the school play because she is black and a girl, Grace wins the part and proves that she can be anything she wants to be.
- Children will explore the world of stories and fairy tales.
- Children will learn about the importance of hard work and self-esteem.
- Children will explore aspects of African-American culture.
Before Reading Activities
Share the book, Amazing Grace, with children. Then ask:
- What kinds of props (hats, boxes, chairs) did Grace use when she played make-believe?
- What things could Grace have used if she wanted to pretend that she was a ghost? A witch? A sea captain?
- How did Grace's mother and grandmother help her?
- What made Grace decide that she could be Peter Pan?
Talk with children about their favorite stories and fairy tales. Have children choose one story/fairy tale to dramatize. Encourage children to devise their own props from classroom materials or objects gathered from their home. You might want to invite other classrooms or parents to the "performance." Try this activity to help children explore prejudice and stereotyping. Have children identify different kinds of careers and discuss the responsibilities of the people involved in those kinds of work. Emphasize that most jobs can be performed by both men and women. Throughout this discussion, help children see that gender or race is not what determines people's capabilities.
After Reading Activities
Talk with children about the kinds of things they feel they are particularly good at -sports, art, reading, etc. Then give each child an opportunity to share his or her special abilities, whether through a demonstration or a verbal presentation, with the other classmates. Later, emphasize to children that each one of them is unique and capable of many things that are special and meaningful. Have children consider what they might have said to the students in Grace's class who told her she could not be Peter. Ask:
- How do you think Grace felt when her friends said that she could not be Peter Pan?
- How would you have felt?
- What might Grace have said to her friends instead of feeling sad?
Remind children of the theater Grace visited with her grandmother. Also help children recall the poster of the new Juliet outside of the theater. Ask children to think about what a poster advertising Peter Pan might look like. Have children draw their own Peter Pan posters on large sheets of paper and share them with the group.
Video programs about African-American culture and self-esteem available from Weston Woods:
Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, ill. by Caroline Binch
Duke Ellington by Andrea Davis Pinkney, ill. by Brian Pinkney
Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney, ill. by Brian Pinkney
Flossie and the Fox by Patricia McKissack, ill. by Rachel Isadora
John Henry by Julius Lester, ill. by Jerry Pinkney
Seven Candles for Kwanzaa by Andrea Davis Pinkney, ill. by Brian Pinkney
The Caterpillar and the Polliwog by Jack Kent
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Ish by Peter H. Reynolds
Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus, ill. by Jose Aruego
The Most Wonderful Egg in the World by Helme Heine
The Ugly Duckling adapted and ill. by Jerry Pinkney
The Wizard by Jack Kent
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This guide may be photocopied for free distribution without restriction.
Copyright 2008 Weston Woods.