Children's Literature Reviews for Teaching History

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Kidnapped Prince: The Life of Olaudah Equiano

Title: The Kidnapped Prince: The Life of Olaudah Equiano
Author: Olaudah Equiano and Ann Cameron
Category: First Person Account

Topic: Slavery
Grade Level: 4-8
Students: A balanced mix of strong readers and struggling or reluctant readers
Rating by: Ann B.

Historically Accurate?
(4) Yes and also includes historical notes, primary sources, etc.*
(3) Yes
(2) A few inaccurate or misleading portrayals
(1) Not a bit
*It is a first person account.

An Engaging Story?
(4) Almost all students will beg to keep reading
(3) Most students will get caught up in the story
(2) Some students will read ahead by mistake
(1) Students will groan when the book is mentioned

Prompts Discussion?
(4) Students will still be talking about it in the hallway
(3) Will prompt discussion about major issues in the past as well as today
(2) Will prompt discussion about the characters and the events in the book
(1) Will not prompt discussion

(4) Everyone - even the most reluctant readers – can get on board*
(3) Can be used for a whole class read
(2) Can only be used with a small high-powered reading group
(1) Recommend only to students that love reading
* I used excerpts, rather than the book in its entirety.

Age Appropriate Content?
____Too mature
_X__Just right
____Too simplistic

A Comment from Ann B.:  When teaching about slavery, it was important to me to make sure my students remembered that behind the word "slaves" were hundreds of thousands of individuals -- real people who were forced to live a nightmare.  This is a man's account of his life as a boy in Africa until he was kidnapped and sold into slavery.  I used excerpts from it to teach about the slave trade because it begins with his normal childhood and helped keep a human face on all the horrors people had to undergo. Olaudah Equiano, the author, did not have a typical experience after arriving in North American (gaining the opportunity to learn to read and write and then publish a book was certainly unusual), so I usually concentrate on the earlier parts of his life in the classroom.

Amazon's Product Description:
Kidnapped at the age of 11 from his home in Benin, Africa, Olaudah Equiano spent the next 11 years as a slave in England, the U.S., and the West Indies, until he was able to buy his freedom. His autobiography, published in 1789, was a bestseller in its own time. Cameron has modernized and shortened it while remaining true to the spirit of the original. It's a gripping story of adventure, betrayal, cruelty, and courage. In searing scenes, Equiano describes the savagery of his capture, the appalling conditions on the slave ship, the auction, and the forced labor. . . . Kids will read this young man's story on their own; it will also enrich curriculum units on history and on writing. 

Link to Reviews on Amazon
Preview it at Google Books
Link to the website of the author: Ann Cameron (includes discussion questions for The Kidnapped Prince)

Buy this book from your local bookstore via Indie Bound

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