Document Type


Publication Date

January 2015


State and national education initiatives have significantly increased expectations of students’ non-fiction reading and writing. These initiatives provide the space for potential interdisciplinary units in English/language arts and social studies/history centered on content area reading and writing. To do so, teachers must locate age-appropriate, historically representative curricular materials and implement discipline-specific writing prompts. To guide elementary teachers’ instruction, we select a novel, underused topic: the birth of the Republic of South Sudan. Age-appropriate children’s trade books are coupled with diverse informational texts—oral histories, current event news articles, and artwork—to extend the trade books’ narratives into the realm of current events. We suggest content area literacy strategies, share anecdotes from their application in the classroom, and recommend engaging, inquiry-based writing prompts that induce students to revisit understandings derived from close readings of the trade books and informational texts. In doing so, all texts and tasks explicitly are connected to different elements of the state and national initiatives in order to help teachers meet the rigorous standards.