Expanding on PRISCILLA with Students
Content and Emotional Tone
The real story and context behind Priscilla and the
Hollyhocks is tender, inspiring, and potentially disturbing for young readers. When parents ask me for what age child the book is suitable, I tell them the facts: Charlesbridge designated ages 7-10, the Booklist reviewer said Grades 2-4 and Kirkus said 6-8 years old. Several middle school teachers have told me they will use the book in their teaching. That said, I think Priscilla and the Hollyhocks can be hard for tender-hearted children for whom slavery and the mistreatment of people in general is a new concept. Not to mention that the mother gets sold away from the child!
As you use Priscilla and the Hollyhocks in your teaching, whatever age, be mindful that the content and emotional tone of this book can be unsettling for some children. When I work with children on this book, I say things like, "It's hard to imagine a time when people thought they could own other people" and "The way masters treated slaves makes us sad". I don't go into the reality that in some parts of the world child slavery remains a reality. I emphasize Priscilla's courage and resiliency, how her positive attitude helped change her circumstances. I also mention that we know very few slave children's stories and even with Priscilla, there's more we don't know (and I had to imagine) than what we have as facts.
Do you or your students need more author info? Check out the Author Bio or three-page Spotlight on Anne Broyles.
Google Lit Trip
Want to see where Priscilla traveled on her journey? Las Vegas, Nevada teacher, Jessica Graham, created a Google map with photos and info about the places Priscilla lived and visited.