89 pages 2 hours read

Julius Lester

Day of Tears

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2005

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Day of Tears

  • Genre: Fiction; middle grade historical
  • Originally Published: 2005
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile NP0L; grades 5-9
  • Structure/Length: 13 chapters; approx. 192 pages; approx. 2 hours and 52 minutes on audio
  • Protagonist and Central Conflict: Emma, an enslaved person on the Butler plantation and the primary caretaker of the Butler children, is sold during the largest slave auction in American history.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Graphic violence; references to sexual assault; suicide ideation; offensive, outdated language. Linked outside resources in this Teaching Unit may include use of the term “slaves.”

Julius Lester, Author

  • Bio: 1939-2018; born in St. Louis, Missouri; received a B.A. in English from Fisk University; worked as a musician, radio talk-show host, photographer, and political activist; was active in the civil rights movement; taught for 32 years at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • Other Works: Time’s Memory (2006); When Dad Killed Mom (2001); To Be a Slave (1969); John Henry (1994)
  • Awards: Coretta Scott King Award (2006); Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (1995); Caldecott Honor (1995); Newbery Honor (1969)

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Unit:

  • The Vulnerability of Black People and Enslaved People
  • The Significance of Location in the United States Prior to the 13th Amendment
  • Slavery as an Inhumane Practice Against Nature

STUDY OBJECTIVES: In accomplishing the components of this Unit, students will: