Leading the Fight for a More Equitable Society

Use the lesson plan below to talk about what Eleanor Roosevelt did and why!

Weathering challenging times is nothing new for the United States. At the Great Books Foundation, we believe that it is important to help students read and discuss fiction and nonfiction texts that highlight constructive responses to difficult situations. When students explore how historical figures and fictional characters confront and resolve problems, they become better equipped to pursue constructive and equitable solutions themselves.

Our Junior Great Books Nonfiction Inquiry series for grades 2–5 includes accounts of people of all ages taking actions large and small to improve their communities. Students can read and discuss how people came together to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy, how young inventors have developed innovative ways to generate power, and how elementary school students use lemonade stands to raise money for charities. By considering examples of different types of positive action, students are able to see what they might be able to do today and what might be possible for them tomorrow.

This month, we’re offering lesson plans for our exclusive account of Eleanor Roosevelt’s groundbreaking work as First Lady, taken from Junior Great Books Nonfiction Inquiry 5. Mrs. Roosevelt defied conventional expectations of her role, choosing to travel independently and meet with sharecroppers, coal miners, and other groups of Americans who were suffering as a result of the Great Depression. During World War II, she worked to raise awareness of the plight of Jewish people in Europe, protested against government internment camps for Japanese Americans, and visited troops in military hospitals. Her rewriting of the unspoken rules about what the president’s spouse could do has had a lasting impact.

Please download the reading and lesson plan for “Plain, Ordinary Mrs. Roosevelt” below for classroom sessions that will spur your students to consider the life and legacy of this remarkable American. We hope you and your students enjoy exploring this selection!

Download the “Plain, Ordinary Mrs. Roosevelt” lesson plan and discuss with your students!