Paul Revere’s fame as a hero of the American Revolution has been passed down from generation to generation through Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride.” Revere’s midnight ride before the 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord warned American soldiers that the British were coming to attack them. But what was his life like before and after that glorious event? James Cross Giblin tells Revere’s story from birth to death in this richly illustrated narrative.
Giblin follows Revere’s life from his humble beginnings as the son of a French immigrant to his work as a silversmith and horse messenger amid the mounting pressures of revolution in the American colonies. Revere is revealed as a brave, compassionate, and multitalented American patriot who was at the heart of early revolutionary activity in Boston. Besides being a rider for the Revolution, he was a
famed silversmith, an engraver of cartoons and paper money, and a manufacturer of gunpowder, rolled copper, and cast bells.
Paintings, documents, and other primary sources illustrate this well-researched biography.
About the Author
James Cross Giblin has been an editor of chidlren’s books as well as an award-winning author. He is a native of Ohio and a graduate of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He came to New York City to get a Master’s Degree at Columbia University and then began an illustrious career in publishing.
Giblin began writing children’s books in 1980 and has since published twenty-four works including Good Brother, Bad Brother: The Story of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth, George Washington: A Picture Book Biography, and The Rise and Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy. In 1996 he received the Washington Post - Children’s Book Guild Award for Nonfiction for his body of work. Mr. Giblin continues to make his home in New York, a city he loves.
Teaching the Book
Listen, my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere . . . In this engaging biography, students learn of the famous midnight ride and much more about this great American patriot and hero. The book provides an opportunity to teach students how to compare two different kinds of text about the same event—the biographical facts and Longfellow’s poem. Activities engage students in doing a virtual walk of Boston’s freedom trail, making a group recording of Longfellow’s poem, and writing a poem about another American hero.
Topic Focus: American Hero
Comprehension Focus: Compare and Contrast Two Texts
Language Focus: Words Related to Revolutionary War
Get Ready to Read
Listen to Longfellow’s Poem
Giblin’s book goes beyond the mythology of Paul Revere that is glorified in Longfellow’s poem. And, yet, the poem is a stirring anthem of patriotism that engages students in learning more about Revere and his role in the American Revolution. A dramatic and well-paced reading of the poem is available on YouTube.
Before viewing, ask students what they know about Paul Revere. Then introduce them to the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that was first published in 1861. Explain that many Americans of the time had never heard of Paul Revere, but that Longfellow’s poem made him a hero for all time. Ask students to go to page 70 of their books for a copy of the poem. Then play the video and audio recording, asking them to follow along.
Preview and Predict
Project the cover of the book on a whiteboard or screen and explain that this is a biography of the life of Paul Revere. Ask students how they think it might be different from the poem they just heard. Discuss the title, the illustration, and the table of contents.
Words Related to Revolutionary War
Introduce students to the words below that occur frequently in writing about the Revolutionary War including the story of Paul Revere. Remind students to look for clues in the text to figure out the word meanings. Guide them to check the dictionary definitions and write them on the vocabulary cards.
Use Resource #1: Vocabulary Cards and distribute copies to students.
- apprentice (p. 2)
- militia (p. 9)
- empire (p. 9)
- colonies (p. 9)
- Parliament (p. 14)
- representation (p. 15)
- tyranny (p. 15)
- rebels (p. 27)
Words to Know
Ask students to refer to the definitions they wrote on their vocabulary cards. Then ask the following questions to evaluate their understanding of the words’ meanings.
- What does it mean to be an apprentice in Paul Revere’s day?
- How do the British treat their colonies in America?
- Why do the colonists protest against “Taxation without Representation?”
- How is tyranny different from democracy?
- What acts of rebellion do the American rebels commit against the British?
Ask students to pair with a partner, asking and answering more questions based on other vocabulary words. Encourage them to provide evidence from the book to support their answers.
As You Read
Reading the Book
Read aloud the first chapter of the book, taking time to model metacognitive strategies like asking questions and integrating illustrations with the text. For example, while reading page 1, question why Paul Revere might have been named Apollos Rivoire, like his French Father. On page 4, take time to read part of the primer that Paul Revere may have studied as a young boy. Note how everything the author writes is based on historical fact and backed up by the primary sources.
Assign students to read the book independently until page 67. Ask them to use sticky notes to write questions about the text as they read. Encourage them to share their questions with a partner at the end of a reading session and check in with them to clarify their comprehension. Explain that you will read the back matter, or information at the end of the book, together as a class.
Big Question: Critical Thinking
Ask students to think about this question as they read. Write the question on chart paper or the whiteboard. Why is Paul Revere remembered as an American hero?
Compare and Contrast Two Texts
When students finish reading the biographical text, read aloud Giblin’s text about “Paul Revere’s Ride” on page 69 as well as “A Comparison” on page 73. Ask students to compare Longfellow’s poem with the biography written by James Cross Giblin. Print the graphic organizer on Resource #2: Compare and Contrast Two Texts and pass out copies to students. Then model how to compare and contrast the author’s purpose of the two texts.
Model: First, let’s think about the author’s purpose in writing each of these texts. James Cross Giblin set out to write the true facts about Paul Revere’s life. I’ll put that in the first column. Longfellow had a different purpose. He wanted to remind Americans of their great patriotic past. He created a legendary Paul Revere. His purpose was to inspire people, not just record facts. Knowing the author’s purpose helps explain the difference in the two texts.
Lead students in comparing and contrasting other aspects of the two texts: text structure, factual differences, and effect on readers.
After You Read
Questions to Discuss
Lead students in a discussion of these focus story elements.
1. American Hero
What characteristics does Paul Revere have that makes him an American hero? (Sample answer: He believes in democracy and equality. He fights for what he believes is right.)
2. Compare and Contrast Two Texts
How does Longfellow’s poem make Paul Revere a hero that people remember? (Sample answer: Longfellow creates a hero that we remember because he seems brave and willing to risk his life for freedom.)
3. Words Related to the Revolutionary War
If you could be an apprentice to someone, whom would you choose? (Answers will vary.)
Questions to Share
Encourage students to share their responses with a partner or small group.
What role do you think you would have played in the American Revolution? (Answers will vary.)
How do you think Paul Revere would spread his message that the British were coming in today’s world? (Answers will vary.)
Do you like learning about history through historical fiction or true biographies like this one? Why? (Answers will vary.)
Content Area Connections
A Virtual Midnight Ride
Tell students that they can find out more about Paul Revere’s house in Boston by visiting the Paul Revere House website. Project the map of the ride on a whiteboard or screen and take a virtual midnight ride with Paul Revere.
A Longfellow Recording
Encourage partners or a small group of students to create their own recording of Longfellow’s poem like the one they heard before reading. Suggest that they alternate reading verses and add sound effects to their recording. Have students play their recordings for the rest of the class for feedback and discussion.
Historic Sites to Visit
Ask students to read the text feature at the end of the book that describes historic places to visit in Boston including the Freedom Trail. Ask individuals to choose a place they would like to visit and research it by visiting its website. Have students share the information along with a map showing its location in Boston.
A Patriotic Play
Use this play about Paul Revere’s Ride to bring the excitement of American history to your students.
The Story Behind the Picture
Challenge students to do a close study of one of the illustrations in the book and write a historical narrative about what it shows. They should explain what has happened before the scene pictured, what is happening in the picture, and what happens afterward. For example, students could write about the painting of Revere rowing across Boston harbor on page 37. Encourage students to exchange papers to share their narratives or read several examples aloud while projecting the illustration on the whiteboard.
Don't Forget the Big Question
Give each student an opportunity to answer the big question. Encourage students to support their answers with details and evidence from the text. Tell the students there is more than one right answer. Why is Paul Revere remembered as an American hero?
American Hero Poem
Challenge students to write a short poem about an American hero they admire. The person can be a political leader, a sports star, or someone else who has contributed to our country in some way. Suggest that they use the first verse of Longfellow’s poem as a model. Point out the rhyme scheme of a a b b a; explain that the words at the ends of lines one, two, and five rhyme and the words at the ends of lines three and four rhyme. Students can use this rhyme pattern or write a free verse poem. Make copies of the printable Big Activity: American Hero Poem and distribute to students. Clarify any questions they have before beginning the activity.
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