Students’ Preparation

IMG_5042IMG_5040School Librarian Kathryn Cole worked with Northside Elementary School teachers to prominently feature Charles R. Smith Jr.’s books during Black History Month programs in February, the school’s readaloud day, and National Poetry Month programs in April.

The entire school read I am America and participated in library programs focused on the concept of “I am Northside.” Students wrote and proudly took pictures with words that they felt best described them! These pictures were used as a display to welcome Charles to the school during his visit.


Once the students who would work with Charles were selected, Kathryn developed a weeklong book club to familiarize the students with Charles and his work. This book club was also used as an opportunity to get the students familiar with the UNC SILS graduate student who would be observing Charles’ artist-in-residency, and each other. Kathryn emphasized that they were going to become a “family and community of writers” and that this book club was to start the community’s focus of supporting each other.

The 5th grade book club focused on Brick by Brick and the hidden figures of the White House. Students learned about Charles R. Smith, poetry, and the White House. On Wednesday, local poet CJ Suitt visited, and told the students: “write your own story, or someone else will write it for you.” To see CJ working with the 5th grade #CRSjrWriters, watch Northside Library’s video below.

The fourth grade book club read several of Charles’ books, but focused on Black Jack: the Ballad of Jack Johnson. Students created word clouds of the words that stood out the most to them about Jack Johnson and watched videos about this historical hidden figure.

One student illustrated Jack Johnson as well as describing him with words!

One student illustrated Jack Johnson as well as describing him with words!


Word clouds created by 4th grade #CRSjrWriters

To follow along with the writers’ experience, follow #CRSjrWriters on Twitter.