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The Glory Field

Walter Dean Myers

Theme: The Power of Inner Strength and Family Ties
Grades: Grades 7-8

In this novel, Myers tells the saga of the Lewis family from the 1700s to the present day. Their experiences represent milestones in African-American history. The family's founder, Muhammad Bilal, is captured, shackled, and transported from Africa to America aboard a slave ship. His noble spirit and love of freedom inspire his descendants, who triumph over the evils of slavery, injustice, poverty, and prejudice. Each generation of the Lewis family derives strength of spirit from love of family and from the Glory Field—a plot of land in South Carolina hallowed by the blood and toil of ancestors.

  1. Tapping Prior Knowledge: Quickwrite.
    Ask students to write about an incident—from their own lives or from their reading—in which someone took a stand against an injustice. Encourage them to record what happened and to explore how the incident made them feel and why they remember it. Invite volunteers to share their responses. Then suggest that, as students read the novel, they compare their experiences with those of the Lewis family.
  1. Linking to Today: Group Discussion.
    Lead students in discussing examples of racial discrimination that they have read about or discovered through movies or television. Encourage them to provide examples, to analyze causes and effects, and to speculate about ways that conflicts might be resolved.
  1. Get it Straight.
    After Abby and Elijah Lewis rescue David Turner, the local newspaper reports that David was rescued by Sheriff Glover. Have students write a feature article for today's Johnson City newspaper, telling the true story that was supressed so long ago. The article should include information about what became of Abby and Elijah. It might also include an illustration of the boys or a map tracing the route to and from Key Island.

  1. Gone But Not Forgotten.
    In various ways, the Lewises contribute their energies to their communities. Enlist students to plan a community memorial honoring one Lewis family member who dies in the novel. The memorial might be anything from a painting or a statue to a concert, a library, a youth center, a park, or an ongoing community service. Have students design the memorial and choose music and readings to present at the dedication ceremony.
  1. African Americans in the Civil War.
    Have students find out about the participation of African Americans in the Civil War. Instruct them to locate facts, statistics, and firsthand accounts regarding the involvement of free African Americans from the North as well as runaway slaves from the South. Have them present their information in a well-organized research report.

  2. Research the Life.
    Have students research the life and accomplishments of a famous African American mentioned in the novel, such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Marian Anderson, Jackie Robinson, Madam C.J. Walker, or Malcolm X. Have them write a brief biographical sketch of the person they choose.