Text copyright © 2018 by Janet Halfmann. Illustrations copyright © 2018 by London Ladd. Images reproduced with permission of the publisher, Lee & Low Books.

For Elementary Readers

Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School

Born into slavery, Lilly Ann secretly learned to read and write from her master’s children—and then read everything she could get her hands on. Wishing to share her knowledge with others, she secretly taught hundreds of other enslaved people despite the great risks.

Apply in the Classroom

A pioneer in education, Lilly Ann Granderson faced many challenges to her efforts to teach and to encourage others to pursue education. Have students discuss what education meant to Lilly Ann and to the people who learned from her, then get students thinking about what education means to them. How do they feel about their own educational experiences? Who do they think is responsible for helping them get a good education? Have students write a letter or tribute to a teacher or someone in their lives who has helped them learn, sharing how having that knowledge has affected their lives.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

What kind of learning opportunities do you think are important?

What is your idea of a good education?

What are the most important things for a school to have?

How important is access to a good education?

Where else can you go to learn?

How does education make a difference in life?

Why is it important to protect people’s right to education?

Related Teaching Resources

Mother Mathilda Beasley: Educator of Slave Children

“I was not sent to school never”  The Pursuit of Learning by African Americans before the Civil War *Selections from 19th- and 20th-century narratives

Teacher’s Guide for Midnight Teacher from Lee & Low Books

The Making of African America Identity, Volume I, 1500-1865: Education from the National Humanities Center

Documenting the American South from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Janet Halfmann on Lilly Granderson’s legacy

Reading Is Fundamental support  materials

More Titles to Try

The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco

My Teacher by James Ransome

The Upside Down Boy/El niño de Cabeza by Juan Felipe Herrera

Armando and the Blue Tarp School by Edith Hope Fine

Mary McLeod Bethune by Eloise Greenfield

Light in the Darkness: A Story about How Slaves Learned in Secret by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Booker T. Washington: Great American Educator by Eric Braun

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