Weston Woods
For 50 years Weston Woods Studios has been the principal innovator in the translation of picture books into the audiovisual media. Our adaptations are faithful reflections of classic children's picture books designed to motivate beginning, struggling, reluctant and limited English language proficient readers to WANT to read.

Rosa Discussion Guide

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, ill. by Bryan Collier
Grades 3-5
Themes: Rosa Parks, Civil Rights Movement, 14th Amendment, Prejudice, Courage, Families, Communities

This book, with straightforward language and glowing illustrations, tells Rosa Parks’ story in a fresh way. Bringing in instrumental figures from the Civil Rights Movement, such as Emmett Till, Jo Ann Robinson, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the program unflinchingly depicts the events leading up to and following Mrs. Parks’ historic act. Personal details lend an air of familiarity to the iconic figure that Rosa Parks has become.This book serves as an excellent addition to any Civil Rights curriculum. It will gently and powerfully help students explore the not-so-long-ago time in U.S. history when racism and prejudice ruled the South.


  • Students will identify the causes and effects of Rosa Parks’ decision not to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus.
  • Students will identify and research key figures in the Civil Rights Movement.
  • Students will develop their vocabulary.


Use a KWL chart to elicit background knowledge (a three-columned chart: What I Know, What I Want to Know, What I Learned). Allow students to brainstorm what they know about the Civil Rights Movement, important Civil Rights figures, and the causes of the Civil Rights Movement. Record all of this information in the What I Know column of the KWL chart. Next, have students generate a list of questions or curiosities of what they want to know. Record these ideas in the next column. Ask students if they are familiar with the Bill of Rights or the 14th Amendment. Record students’ background knowledge, if they have any. Tell them that they are about to read a story about Rosa Parks, a very instrumental figure in the Civil Rights Movement. Encourage students to pay attention for the names of people or events that they recognize. Revisit the KWL chart after reading the book to fill in the What I Learned column.

Preview some of the vocabulary from the book:

  • neutral
  • lynched
  • justices/injustice
  • nonviolent
  • segregation

Ask students to write each new word on the front of an index card. On the back of the index card, students should write the definition of the word and a picture that represents the meaning of the word. Encourage students to listen for the words in the book and to write down any context clues from the story that would also help them to remember the meaning of the word.


Revisit the KWL chart. Students should independently make a list of what they learned from the book. Then, have students share what they learned and record it on the KWL chart.

Students can choose one of the most important or interesting events or people that they learned about to do a project or research report on. Help them find resources on the internet or in the library. Provide project ideas such as a skit about one of the events, a research paper on a person, or a newspaper article about the event or person. Students should incorporate their new vocabulary words into these projects.

Introduce the idea of cause and effect. Give students examples from everyday life, such as: “Cause: I don’t bring my homework to school. Effect: I have to stay in from recess.” After generating several examples with the students, create a cause and effect flowchart that shows the causes and effects of Rosa Parks’ decision not to give up her seat on the bus.After the flowchart has been created together in the class, provide students with a personal version of the flowchart. Below each text box, provide an empty box for them to draw an illustration of the events described.

Guide students through an internet based research project (The website offers a variety of articles relating to Rosa Parks’ life and accomplishments.) Using their research, students can create a project that extends their learning about Rosa Parks. Suggested projects could be:

  • Biographical poster including a short written biography, pictures, timeline of her life, acrostic poem using Rosa Parks’ name
  • 5-paragraph biographical essay
  • Annotated timeline including illustrations and 1-3 sentence descriptions of the major events in Parks’ life
  • A mobile with pictures and informational cards about Parks

Videos about prejudice and/or the Civil Rights Movementavailable from Weston Woods:

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, ill. by Bryan Collier

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

Ellington Was Not a Street , by Ntozake Shange, ill. by Kadir Nelson

The Island of the Skog , by Steven Kellogg

Martin’s Big Words , by Doreen Rappaport, ill. by Bryan Collier

The Ugly Duckling , by Hans Christian Andersen, adapted and ill. by Jerry Pinkney

Yo! Yes? By Chris Raschka

TO ORDER:  For Public Library sales call 800-243-5020 / For School Library sales call 800-621-1115.

This guide may be photocopied for free distribution without restriction.

Copyright 2008 Weston Woods.


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