Patricia and Fredrick McKissack

When Patricia and Fredrick McKissack began their writing careers, they were on a mission. They set out to address the lack of children's stories about African Americans, and did they ever do that. Over the last 30 years, the McKissacks have written nearly 120 books across age groups and genres. From biographies of well-known activists like Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass, to stories of lesser known heroes like the Tuskegee Airmen or Black whalers in the 19th century, to short-stories based on traditional African-American folktales, to picture books and easy-readers grounded in their own experiences in the segregated South, the McKissacks have honored and shared the African American experience with children and families.

Prompt for Grades K-2 (Level I)

In Goin' Someplace Special, Patricia McKissack writes about a young girl, Tricia Ann, who is on her way to a special place… the library. For Tricia Ann, the library is a friendly place that she looks forward to visiting. Is there a special place that you like to visit? Why do you like it? It doesn't have to be far away, it could be in your own backyard, or down the street, or wherever. The important thing is that this place, and maybe the people there, are special to you. Tell us all about it and/or draw a picture if you like.

Prompt for Grades 3-5 (Level II)

Good stories connect with readers and make them feel something. In their award-winning folktale collection, The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural, McKissack's have written creepy ghost stories and legends to give you a chill. Dark-Thirty is that time just before dark, when it's neither day nor night and mystery lurks in the shadows. Write a story set at dark-thirty that will give us all a good scare. Include some creepy sounds or invent an eerie new creature. Here's your big chance to make us too afraid to look under the bed.

Prompt for Grades 6-8 (Level III)

In Days of Jubilee, the McKissacks use first-hand slave narratives, photographs, and maps to explore the events surrounding the end of slavery. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves in the states that had seceded from the Union. A proclamation is an official public announcement usually made by the government. Presidential proclamations can be about important political issues or to honor the achievements of special people or groups. For example, every year the U.S. president proclaims February National African American History Month. Proclamations do two things: first, they explain an issue and make the case for why it's important, then they ask us to do something — remember, honor someone, observe a holiday, etc. Write a proclamation about an issue or person important to you. Remember to explain to us why the person or event is important to honor.

Prompt for Grades 9-12 (Level IV)

An interior monologue reflects a person's thoughts and feelings, and these thoughts can be very different from what a person is saying or doing. Think about it. When you're in class, is your mind always on what your teacher is saying, or have you got other things on your mind? The pictures above are from Civil Rights sit-ins and other protests against racial segregation in the 1960s. During the protests, participants endured taunts and sometimes even violence. Choose any person — protester, heckler, or bystander — in one of the photos below and write an interior monologue. Explain what is going on inside that person while so much is going on around them. Please note on your submission which picture/ person you wrote about.

Sit in
March to Selma
Little Rock

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