Vermont Reads 2019

March: Book One

Suggested Activities

This year’s Vermont Reads book, March: Book One, presents opportunities for numerous extension activities ranging from book discussions to field trips to art & craft projects. The kinds of activities that promote shared reading and discussion are bounded only by the imaginations that you and your collaborators bring to the project. If you develop a new idea, please let us know so that we can share it with other communities!

Please be sure to let us know in advance about your Vermont Reads-related events by submitting them via our online form and we will help spread the word!

March: Book One Activity Ideas

Book Discussions

Ideally, a discussion group should be facilitated by a person comfortable leading conversations in which everyone feels encouraged to participate. Facilitators might be teachers, librarians, or others who are skilled and enthusiastic about leading a discussion. See the Vermont Reads 2019 discussion guide for discussion questions and tips for a successful book discussion. Note: VHC does not fund discussion facilitators for Vermont Reads; facilitators should either be volunteers, or project coordinators must make their own honorarium arrangements with facilitators.

Discussion about books related to March: Book One

Host one of VHC’s Reading & Discussion series or individual books on:

Note that you must apply separately to host VHC-subsidized Reading and Discussion programs. Visit the Reading and Discussion section of our website to apply and to see the entire catalog of offerings and discussion facilitators. Or host your own book discussion on related books.


Advertise a day or evening read-a-thon, where participants take turns reading chapters from March: Book One aloud. Everyone who wishes to participate should have the opportunity. This is a unique way for people of all ages and backgrounds to share the reading experience.

Art & Craft Projects

In addition to (or instead of) writing, young people and adults may wish to express their feelings about poems through artwork, music, or performance. Here are some ideas:

  • Participants can create their own comic strips based on stories from March: Book One.
  • They also can create protest posters and banners. Arrange for exhibit space at your local library, school, museum, or coffee shop to show participants’ artwork.
  • Have participants learn and sing spirituals or protest songs.
  • Make a cartoon quilt: draw pictures that represent people or situations that celebrate communities that are often marginalized or considered different through race, religion, LGBTQ identity, gender, economic situation and others.

Here are some more ideas from the Teaching Tolerance website.

Listen to the VPR Broadcast

Gather a group around the radio — or around a computer — to listen to VPR’s Vermont Reads program after it is made available on the web. Vermont Public Radio is VHC’s media partner for Vermont Reads. Use the program as a lead-in to a discussion. Broadcast dates and times will be publicized when they are available.

Field Trips

The Vermont African American Heritage Trail

View the Vermont African American Heritage Trail brochure (PDF)

“Sometimes overlooked as part of Vermont’s history are the African Americans who made Vermont their home. Over the centuries, they have had a profound impact on agriculture, owned businesses, held public office, fought alongside fellow citizens in major wars, and worked to make Vermont and the nation a better place.” – State of Vermont Dept of Tourism

The Vermont Center for Cartoon Studies and the Schultz Library

Both located in White River Junction, the Center for Cartoon Studies is home to a world of drawings, artists, comics, and graphic novels. The Schultz library holds an extensive collection of books about cartooning – both academic and instructional, in addition to comic books and graphic novels. Workshops, tours and classes are possible.

Host a Movie Night or Series

There are many documentaries and movies related to the civil rights movement and also graphic novels that may provide context and complement the themes of March: Book One. Here are some suggestions, but this is not an exhaustive list! The movies noted with an asterisk (*) are approved for screening through the Vermont Department of Libraries (VTLIB)’s motion picture public performance license with Movie Licensing USA. Visit the VTLIB website for information on registering for this service.

  • 4 Little Girls (Documentary, 1997, TV-13) A documentary of the notorious racial terrorist bombing of an African American church during the civil rights movement.
  • 13th (Documentary, 2016. TV-MA) An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality.
  • *42: The Jackie Robinson Story (Biography, 2013, PG-13) In 1947,Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era when he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. He faced considerable racism in the process.
  • Arena: Art Speigelmans Maus (Documentary, 1993, Unrated) This documentary follows Art Speigelman as he works through his graphic novel Maus, an account of his father’s experiences in a WWII concentration camp.
  • At the River I Stand (Documentary, 1987, Unrated) This moving documentary recounts the two months leading to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death in 1968, coinciding with the 65-day strike of 1300 Memphis sanitation workers. Features John Lewis.
  • Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (Drama, 1974, PG) Story of a black woman in the South who was born into slavery in the 1850s and lived to become a part of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
  • *Black Panther (Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi, 2018, PG-13) T’Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country’s past.
  • *BlacKKKlansman (Biography, 2018, R) Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate who eventually becomes the Klan’s leader. Based on actual events.
  • *Do the Right Thing (Drama, 1989, R) On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.
  • February One: The Story of the Greensboro Four (Documentary, 2003) Based largely on first-hand accounts and rare archival footage, this film documents one volatile winter in Greensboro that not only challenged public accommodation customs and laws in North Carolina, but served as a blueprint for the wave of non-violent civil rights protests that swept across the South and the nation throughout the 1960’s.
  • Hidden Figures (Biography/History, 2016, PG) The story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space program.
  • I Am Not Your Negro (Documentary, 2016, PG-13) Using writings from James Baldwin’ unfinished novel, Remember This House, the film tells the story of race in modern America.
  • *Remember the Titans (Biography/Drama, 2000, PG) The true story of an African-American football coach and his high school team during their first season as a racially integrated unit.
  • *Roots (Biography/History, 1976, TV-14) A dramatization of author Alex Haley’s family line, from ancestor Kunta Kinte’s enslavement to his descendants’ liberation.
  • Selma (Biography/History, 2014, PG) A chronicle of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965.
  • *Selma, Lord, Selma (Wonderful World of Disney, 1999) In Alabama in 1965, an 11-year-old girl is touched by a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and becomes his devout follower. But her resolution is tested when she joins others in the famed march from Selma to Montgomery.
  • Sounder (Drama, 1972, G) The oldest son of a loving and strong family of black sharecroppers comes of age in the Depression-era South after his father is imprisoned for stealing food.
  • *The Butler (Drama, 2013, PG-13) Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House. The civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect his life, family, and American society.
  • *To Kill a Mockingbird (Drama, 1962, Unrated) Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his children against prejudice.
  • *Woodlawn (Drama, 2015, PG) A gifted high school football player must learn to embrace his talent and his faith as he battles racial tensions on and off the field.
Host a Sing-Along or Performance of Music from the Civil Rights Era

Music played a major role in the Civil Rights Movement. Sing songs or view a documentary to experience the power of many voices united for a single cause.

Guest Speakers

VHC Speakers Bureau: Host a VHC Speakers Bureau program that relates to some of the broad topics of Vermont Reads: March: Book One:

  • Daisy Turner’s Kin: Vermont Folklorist Jane Beck shares the story of the Turner family, a multigenerational saga spanning two centuries. Daisy Turner’s own life story is a powerful and rare account of the African American experience in New England from the 1880s forward.
  • A History of the Concept of Race: The first European to divide the peoples of the world into distinct races, in the seventeenth century, claimed that the Sami people of northern Scandinavia were one of four races on earth; Native Americans, Europeans, South Asians, and North Africans together were considered a second race. How did such a bizarre distinction among groups of people develop into one of the most historically significant ideas of the modern world?  Presented by William Edelglass who teaches philosophy, environmental studies, and Buddhist studies at Marlboro College.
  • Restorative Justice: How Vermont, Argentina, and Rwanda Wrestle With Crime, the Past, and Rebuilding Community: Norwich University Professor Rowly Brucken explains these initiatives as a way of sparking discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of these creative but controversial attempts to respond to criminal wrongdoing by emphasizing the needs of victims and communities.
  • Cartooning Reconsidered: In this thought-provoking lecture, James Sturm, the co-founder of the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT will explore a brief history of the language and art of comics, and the new ways that cartooning and visual storytelling are changing the world.

Note that you must apply separately to host VHC-subsidized Speakers Bureau programs. Visit our Speakers Bureau website to apply and to see the entire catalogue of Speakers Bureau offerings.

Writing or Drawing Project/Contest

Writing contests are a popular means for younger readers and writers to approach the written word. In the spirit of March: Book One, contestants can be encouraged to use drawing to tell a story along with words.  Entries can be assembled in print or on the web, and winning selections can be read at a special event. If you choose to run a contest, we suggest offering prizes in different age or grade categories. (Be sure to let us know about the contest so we can help advertise it.)

Culminating Celebrations

Communities often choose to conclude their Vermont Reads activities with a celebratory event co-hosted with other collaborating organizations. Organize a show that documents your activities with drawings and posters, story-telling and a movie or presentation. These final events are useful for showcasing student work done as part of the Vermont Reads project, recognizing contest winners, or hosting a panel discussion or presentation. Consider singing or playing sounds from the civil rights movement during the event!


Libraries, bookstores, schools: Create a prominent display of Vermont Reads: March: Book One books and other related titles at the public library, school library, or local bookstore.

Additional Resources about Civil Rights

From the Library of Congress: