Courage has No Color
Grades 6 and Up
- Exploring the Military in World War II. Courage has No Colorexplores the role of one group of African-American men during World War II. Using a literature circle approach, have students explore the book alongside other American men and women whose service in World War II was limited because of prejudice, such as Black Men and White Air Men by John Fleishman and Yankee Doodle Gals by Amy Nathan. There is no comparable middle grade or young adult nonfiction book specifically on Japanese-American soldiers, in particular the 442nd Regiment, but there are digital collections listed below that can also be explored. After focusing on these three trade books, as well as digital texts, have students examine several textbook accounts of World War II or a basic survey book on the topic. What role do the men and women they read about play in these more general accounts? Are they mentioned? Is a comprehensive history of the war possible to write?
- Comparing Research Strategies:After reading Courage has No Color, make sure that students read “The Story Behind the Story” within the back matter. Next, have your students read a variety of entries from the Interesting Nonfiction for Kids (INK) blog. Have them compare and contrast the different approaches writers and illustrators take to complete their research, and the similarities and differences between Stone’s approach and others’.
- How Far Have We Come? After reading Courage has No Color, have your students explore contemporary issues of equity within the military. Using some of the resources below, as well as other digital and print texts, have your students explore the recent demise of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that prohibited gay and lesbian men and women from being out while serving in the military, and the recent termination of the ban on women in combat. Students may also want to consider the make-up of our all-volunteer force and the number of men and women of color in the military today as compared to during World War II.
- Oral History. To write this book, Tanya Lee Stone had to conduct many interviews with the veterans of the 555th, who are in the eighties and nineties. Have your students conduct oral histories with senior citizens in your community about their memories of World War II. Be sure to have your students read more widely about the war before establishing general research questions and specific interview questions. You might want to organize groups to interview men and women based on the different roles they played at war and on the Homefront. Decide together the best way to share their research. They may want to co-author articles with the senior citizens whom they interview, to publish a class magazine that can be donated to the school and public library. Or, students might use this as an opportunity to introduce multimodal digital composition to senior citizens in your area, working together to photograph artifacts and mementos, locate old songs, and record some of their conversations, in order to create a multimodal portrait of their memories.
- Author Study. Have some students in class read Courage has No Color, and have others read Almost Astronauts. What are the similarities and differences in content and theme? What are some of the similarities and differences in the structures of the books? What visual narratives are created within each book? How did Stone approach her research in each? How does the author’s note and source material guide you? What are some of the lessons in craft that they learn from her books?
Filed under: Nonfiction Chapter Books
About Mary Ann Cappiello
Mary Ann is a professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former public school language arts and humanities teacher, she is a passionate advocate for and commentator on children’s books. Mary Ann is the co-author of Teaching with Text Sets (2013) and Teaching to Complexity (2015) and Text Sets in Action: Pathways Through Content Area Literacy (Stenhouse, 2021). She has been a guest on public radio and a consultant to public television. From 2015-2018, Mary Ann was a member of the National Council of Teachers of English's Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction (K-8) Committee, serving two years as chair.
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