The Mighty Miss Malone
Christopher Paul Curtis
The Mighty Miss Malone, Bud Not Buddy, The Watsons Go To Birmingham. What do these books have in common, besides a great children’s literature author? They have history, social studies, suspense, humor and heartwarmingly hopeful stories. At a time when children’s literature is inundated with fearful characters and dystopian landscapes, in books that masquerade in this genre, but border on Young Adult, Christopher Paul Curtis saves the day.
Schools throughout the United States are now introducing something called core curriculum. In these programs, material is used to engage children to consider subjects in a broader context and stimulate critical thinking and interaction. A savvy teacher would see how Curtis’ stories organically lead to understanding (from a child’s point of view) how our history and past socio-economic challenges have bearing on the present. I’ve had teachers ask, “How can I bring up the topic of race, and what is there to teach except for biographies during lessons preceding the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday or Black History Month? Some even lose understanding of the purpose of these memorials, forgetting that Dr. King and others were first children facing struggles that Curtis is so adept at chronicling with a depth of humanity. These struggles are integral to the memorial, because without them, motivation for our nation’s change is lost.
My simple response for those teaching in the younger grades is to utilize stories in Christopher Paul Curtis’ books. Pick one of his books, read aloud to your class and let the discussion happen! Let students respond to his stories with their own writing too.
Visit Christopher Paul Curtis’ official site at