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Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper

Last updated Thursday, November 8, 2012

Author: Ann Malaspina
Illustrator: Eric Velasquez
Date of Publication: 2011
ISBN: 080758035X
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Nov. 2012

Synopsis: "Bare feet shouldn't fly. Long legs shouldn't spin. Braids shouldn't flap in the wind. 'Sit on the porch and be a lady,' Papa scolded Alice." In Alice's Georgia hometown, there was no track where an African-American girl could practice, so she made her own crossbar with sticks and rags. With the support of her coach, friends, and community, Alice started to win medals. Her dream to compete at the Olympics came true in 1948. This is an inspiring free-verse story of the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal. Photos of Alice Coachman are also included.

Note to readers:
•  This is a true story -- photos and biographical information are in the back of the book

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Did you watch the Olympics this summer?
•  What was your favorite sport to watch? To play?
•  How high can you jump?
•  Where were the Olympics in 1948? What about 2012? (See inside flap)
•  Do you know where these places are?

•  Javelin- a metal spear thrown for distance in track and field competitions.
•  Humble- someone who is modest, and not arrogant about his or her talent.
•  Tuskegee Institute- a private, historically black university located in Tuskegee, Alabama. The school was founded in 1881, and the campus is a National Historic Landmark.
•  Scaled- to climb up or leap over; ascend.
•  Proclaim- to announce officially and publicly.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What was it like traveling around the U.S for Alice and her teammates?
•  How did the lemon help Alice?
•  What do your teachers do to help or encourage you?
•  What are your dreams?

Craft ideas:
•  Make the Olympic rings (blue, black, red, yellow, green) out of construction paper or paper plates.
•  Make your own Olympic medals out of paper plates or construction paper and yarn.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!