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The Glory Field

Walter Dean Myers

Theme: The Power of Inner Strength and Family Ties

Grades: Grades 7-8

Summary:
In this novel, Myers tells the saga of the Lewis family from the 1700s
to the present day. Their experiences represent milestones in African-American
history. The family’s founder, Muhammad Bilal, is captured, shackled,
and transported from Africa to America aboard a slave ship. His noble
spirit and love of freedom inspire his descendants, who triumph over
the evils of slavery, injustice, poverty, and prejudice. Each generation
of the Lewis family derives strength of spirit from love of family and
from the Glory Field—a plot of land in South Carolina hallowed
by the blood and toil of ancestors.

THEME OPENERS

  1. Tapping Prior Knowledge: Quickwrite.
    Ask students to write about an incident—from their own lives
    or from their reading—in which someone took a stand against an
    injustice. Encourage them to record what happened and to explore how
    the incident made them feel and why they remember it. Invite volunteers
    to share their responses. Then suggest that, as students read the
    novel, they compare their experiences with those of the Lewis family.
  1. Linking to Today: Group Discussion.
    Lead students in discussing examples of racial discrimination that
    they have read about or discovered through movies or television. Encourage
    them to provide examples, to analyze causes and effects, and to speculate
    about ways that conflicts might be resolved.

CROSSCURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

  1. Get it Straight.
    After Abby and Elijah Lewis rescue David Turner, the local newspaper
    reports that David was rescued by Sheriff Glover. Have students
    write a feature article for today’s Johnson City newspaper, telling
    the true story that was supressed so long ago. The article should
    include information about what became of Abby and Elijah. It might
    also include an illustration of the boys or a map tracing the route
    to and from Key Island.

  1. Gone But Not Forgotten.
    In various ways, the Lewises contribute their energies to their communities.
    Enlist students to plan a community memorial honoring one Lewis family
    member who dies in the novel. The memorial might be anything from
    a painting or a statue to a concert, a library, a youth center, a
    park, or an ongoing community service. Have students design the memorial
    and choose music and readings to present at the dedication ceremony.

RESEARCH ASSIGNMENTS

  1. African Americans in the Civil War.
    Have students find out about the participation of African Americans
    in the Civil War. Instruct them to locate facts, statistics, and firsthand
    accounts regarding the involvement of free African Americans from
    the North as well as runaway slaves from the South. Have them present
    their information in a well-organized research report.
  2. Research the Life.
    Have students research the life and accomplishments of a famous African
    American mentioned in the novel, such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Marian Anderson,
    Jackie Robinson, Madam C.J. Walker, or Malcolm X. Have them write
    a brief biographical sketch of the person they choose.
 

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