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Lesson Plan: Teaching Nonviolent Direct Action through Children’s Literature

The cover of Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins written by Carole Boston Weatherford and paintings by Jerome Lagarrigue; bar stools and a bar are shown, with a black woman and a black girl walking by the open stools.

Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins

written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue


The philosophy of nonviolence is a central theme in the African American Freedom Struggle. In an article for Ebony magazine in March of 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr., stated, “World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed.” The following children’s literature and lesson plans explore the philosophy of nonviolence in action. Each story illustrates historic examples of nonviolent direct action, for example, the Greensboro sit-ins and the Montgomery bus boycott. The corresponding classroom activities include recommendations for primary source documents and secondary resources. 

Teachers are encouraged to identify with their students more recent nonviolent direct action focused on issues in their school and community. Using the events of the storybook as a model, students may formulate a plan for addressing current injustice. We hope these books and suggested resources are useful not only for the King holiday, but throughout your school year.

Andrea McEvoy Spero
Art, English Language, U.S. History
K-2, 3-5