Teaching About Young Patriots through Newbery Classic Novels: Johnny Tremain, My Brother Sam is Dead, and The Fighting Ground

Critical Thinking

July 8, 2024
by Linda J. Rice Also by this Author

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“If one is to truly love a country, one must be acquainted with its history and what it took for that country to stand today. In this particular field, I was, and I believe still am, lacking. After reading and studying My Brother Sam is Dead, however, I have come to a better understanding of the sacrifices that were made in order for me to be able to sit and type this paper about patriotism and the land that I love. Because of this reality check, I’m very grateful.”—Brian Zeit, college junior in Army ROTC

“Prior to studying The Fighting Ground I had very little knowledge of what the Revolutionary War was like. Avi really helped me experience it in a way that made me feel like I was actually there in the heart of it all . . . After Jonathan went to battle, I was scared for him. As a reader, I really got to know the characters and feel for them . . . I was moved by the compassion that Jonathan displayed. He was faithful, and at times, brave beyond his years. He was insightful and non-judgmental, and [this] was really encouraging. My eyes were opened by the view of war from a younger person’s perspective.”—Heather Laughlin, college junior and pre-service English teacher

As the United States approaches its 250th anniversary in 2026, America250, the official semiquincentennial planning commission, has been working to prepare a yearlong series of special events.[1] Schools are sure to find ways to participate in the semiquincentennial celebration in honor of the nation’s founding and evolution. This is an ideal time to revisit three Newbery Award Winning classics that showcase the complexity of the American Revolution. This article will detail five strategies to help students engage in active learning as they use these novels to explore the concepts of duty, family loyalty, fighting for a cause, taking risks and the complexity of war.

Named after eighteenth century bookseller John Newbery, the Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association (ALA) for the “most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year.”[2] Johnny Tremain, written by Esther Forbes and published in 1943, is the earliest Newbery Medal winner to be focused on the American Revolution. Just a year earlier, Forbes won the Pulitzer Prize for History for her nonfiction book Paul Revere and the World He Lived In.[3] The research Forbes conducted for that book “inspired her to write a story about the lives of apprentices in the shops and on the wharves of colonial Boston, and this became Johnny Tremain.[4] The book is beautifully written and engaging as it traces two years in the life of Johnny who, as a small child, was indentured to the Lapham family because his widowed mother could not afford his keep. Johnny serves as an apprentice to the aging and once famed silversmith, Mr. Lapham. Johnny’s giftedness makes him invaluable to the family and contributes to his haughty attitude as he bosses around and sometimes demeans the Lapham children. This changes in a moment when Johnny suffers a tragic injury to his hand that make him unable to work as a silversmith.

At age fourteen Johnny leaves the Laphams to try to find work that suits him, a hard task because his previous high standing makes it difficult for him to accept what he sees to be lesser jobs. Johnny meets and begins to greatly admire and cultivate a close friendship with Rab Silsbee, who is reserved and a bit mysterious. Over time readers learn that Rab is associated with Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. Adding complexity and suspense to Johnny’s story, Forbes weaves in a love relationship and a subplot about his lineage and whether he may be an heir to great wealth. The novel addresses tensions between Loyalists and Patriots and the events leading up to the first battle of the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Lexington, fought on April 19, 1775. At one point Johnny observes Redcoats marching in with the British flag and in that moment captures something profound, saying, “That flag—it stood for the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, Charles the First’s head upon a block, centuries of struggle for ‘English liberty.’ But over here there had grown up a broader interpretation of the word ‘liberty’: no man to be ruled or taxed except by men of his own choice.”[5]

The closing chapters of Johnny Tremain usher readers through grief and hope. Johnny’s best friend Rab dies after being wounded in battle without even having been able to fire a shot from the musket he had worked to improve. After the tender moment of Rab’s passing, with Johnny present, the doctor asks to see Johnny’s injured hand, which he always kept hidden. In this vulnerable moment of rare openness, Johnny lets the doctor look at this hand and the doctor says he can do surgery to make it functional again. From here there is talk of what will be the prolonged fight for liberty. “True, Rab had died. Hundreds would die, but not the thing they died for. ‘A man can stand up . . .’”[6] (page 438). Forbes weaves history throughout the novel in a way that brings it to life, placing particular emphasis on Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, John Hancock, Dr. Joseph Warren, British General Thomas Gage, and others. Also prominent and incorporated with context that makes them easy to understand are Whigs, Tories, Minutemen, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Lexington, the spire of Christ Church (“one, if by land, and two, if by sea”[7]), and the fictional newspaper Boston Observer based on the real-life Boston Gazette.[8]

Like Esther Forbes’ Johnny Tremain, both My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier,[9] and The Fighting Ground by Avi[10] are winners of the Newbery Medal. The Fighting Ground also won the Scott O’Dell Award for Best Historical Fiction and is on the ALA List of Best Books for Young Adults. These novels have stood the test of time; My Brother Sam is Dead has Scholastic Gold status with a critical notes section, and The Fighting Ground has a special Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Edition. Originally published in 1974 and 1984 respectively, My Brother Sam is Dead and The Fighting Ground are two poignant young adult novels that show how divided people were over justifications for war during the American Revolution.

Divisions arose not only between Tory-friendly versus Independence-favoring towns, but even within families where sons, forbidden by their fathers to go to war, left home and joined the Revolutionary forces. Tim Meeker, from whose perspective My Brother Sam is Dead is told, was torn between obeying his father’s wish that he stay at home to work in the tavern and getting out in the field to participate as a messenger and spy in support of his brother Sam who had joined the fight against England. Jonathan, the thirteen-year-old protagonist of The Fighting Ground, is torn between what he originally believed about the “enemy” and what he sees firsthand after being captured by Hessian soldiers fighting alongside the British Tories. Jonathan’s interactions with the “enemy” humanize the war and make him think twice about his obligations, especially when he learns that it was one of his fellow American Patriot soldiers who murdered a French family, leaving their young son abandoned to fend for himself or perish. The novels are not intended to exalt England over the United States or vice versa, but rather to put a human face on the battlegrounds, to show families divided and to draw into question and analysis the hardships endured in times of war.

Five active learning strategies will help students get the most out reading one, two, or all three of these award-winning books. These strategies include Reader Response Prompts tailored to each book, Creative Writing to Show Different Perspectives, Focus on Word-Image Senses to visualize the text more personally, Using Objects to Remember Turning Points, and Poems for Three Voices to explore multiple perspectives on war.

Reader Response Prompts

Reader Response questions engage students with the text and promote critical thinking, analysis and avenues for students to express their creativity.[11] Such prompts allow students to explore meanings of the text more deeply and connect the text with their own life experiences. The following prompts are for use during and after reading My Brother Sam is Dead and include a range of response types: discussion, letter, newspaper, artistic creations, and connections with a song or film. Also noted is when each prompt would be most fitting.

1. Letter/Personal Connection (after chapter 1). Imagine your brother or sister coming home from college and telling your family that they are going to fight in the war. How would this make you feel? What advice would you give them? Write a letter detailing your thoughts, feelings and advice.

2. Free Write on Church, Religion or Principles (after chapter 2). In a free-write, discuss how church, religion or principles play a part in the lives of the characters. Share how this is similar or dissimilar to your own experiences. Be sure to use specific examples from the text to support your thoughts.

3. Discussion/Personal Connection (after chapters 4-5). How do you feel about Tim’s actions? What would you do if you were in his position and why?

4. Research and Persuasive Collage (after chapters 6-8). If you were living during the time of the American Revolution, which side would you have fought for and why? After choosing a side, find a book or article that describes the troops of your chosen side. Use the information in the book or article to create a collage of pictures and words that represent your chosen side.

5. Character Interactions/Personal Connection (after chapter 9). Choose two characters and examine events in which they interact. Think of something from your own life that reminds you of the character interaction. This could be a relationship you are personally a part of or one that you have observed. After considering what the character interaction reminds you of, write a brief description of the interaction and the similarities and differences between the way they act and the interaction they remind you of.

6. Personal Reflection (after chapter 10). How would you feel if you had to give up your life (i.e. going to school, socializing with your friends, participating in extracurricular activities and hobbies) in order to help your family survive?

7. Newspaper. This activity works especially well after completing the novel. Choose several significant events or issues from the novel. Create the front page of a local newspaper describing these events. Include outsider opinions on the event/issues, including your own. Be creative! Use pictures, captions, drawings and an inventive layout.

8. Word Analysis. This activity can be used any time during reading. Find an interesting word, sentence or thought from the novel and discuss its importance. Why is it important? What does it mean? How does it relate to your own life?

9. Artwork. It would be good to use this activity at least twice during reading to highlight character traits. Choose a character from the novel, and create a piece of artwork (e.g., photograph, painting, drawing) that conveys something significant about him/her. Accompany your artistic rendering with a brief explanation of the character and his/her importance to the story.

10. Song or Movie Clip. This activity works especially well after reading the whole novel. Choose a song or movie clip that relates to one of the central themes or main characters in the novel. Explain the connections between the song or movie clip and the novel, and discuss why you chose the specific piece for an association.

Just as the previous series of Reader Response Prompts will help students engage in critical thinking about My Brother Sam is Dead, the following questions will engage students with The Fighting Ground. These questions require students to think deeply about characters and their motives and, at times, imagine themselves in characters’ shoes, particularly the protagonist Jonathan’s. While using these questions for discussion or Socratic Seminar give students the opportunity to hear opinions of their peers, the questions also work well as writing assignments to prompt students to think carefully about the text on an individual basis. Before reading The Fighting Ground, the teacher should explain to students that Hessians were soldiers from German states whose rulers were paid by the British to send their troops to fight in America. The text intersperses some German phrases that are translated into English in the back of the book.

A key plot point of The Fighting Ground is that Jonathan is forbidden by his father to join the fight, but he does so anyway. The Fighting Ground has a unique, fast-moving story structure that uses time stamps instead of chapter numbers. The story begins on April 3, 1778 at 9:58 a.m. with thirteen-year old Jonathan doing chores on his family’s farm.[12] He hears the bell of the town tavern ringing to call men to arms. By 11:00 a.m. a recruiter tempts Jonathan away by giving him a gun and telling him he is needed and must decide quickly.[13] By 2:43 p.m. that same day Jonathan has marched miles, and his unit encounters Hessian soldiers.[14] After evading them for a time, by 4:01 p.m. Jonathan is captured and taken hostage.[15] By 11:50 p.m. he longs for home and the Hessian corporal tells him he will need to help them first.[16] The story unfolds quickly, taking place in a period of less than forty-eight hours. It concludes on April 4, 1778, 10:30 p.m. with Jonathan home and forever changed in his view of war and his understanding of his father’s fear.[17] Given the brevity and structure of Avi’s novel, these questions, tightly focused on Jonathan’s experiences, are best answered after reading.

Reader Response Prompts for The Fighting Ground

1. Was it right to let Jonathan fight in the battle? Why or why not?

2. Should Jonathan have taken the little boy with him? Why or why not? Note: When Jonathan is held hostage by the Hessian soldiers, he meets a French boy whose parents have been murdered and buried in the barn where he is being held captive. Jonathan later learns that it was American Patriots who killed the boy’s parents.

3. Why did Jonathan tell the Hessians that they were about to be attacked? How do you know whether or not this was the right thing to do?

4. Why did the Hessians not offer Jonathan water or acknowledge his presence?

5. What was Jonathan’s motive for bringing a musket back to the Hessians? Was this a good idea? Explain.

6. Why did Jonathan lie about his father’s permission? Is this something you can relate to? If so, share an example. If not, critique Jonathan’s actions accordingly.

7. Why did Jonathan give himself up so easily to be taken as a hostage?

8. How would you describe Jonathan after returning home?

9. How would you describe Jonathan’s personality before the battle? What about after he’d gone to war?

10. How would you describe the roles of Jonathan’s parents before and after the battle?

Creative Writing to Show Different Perspectives

A particular value of My Brother Sam is Dead and The Fighting Ground is their ability to show the complicated nature of war. Opposing sides in a conflict may each have good points and what is “good” or “evil” may not always be clear cut. Additionally, even when there is agreement about a cause such as freedom being of high value, the cost to gain freedom, having life-or-death consequences, raises questions about the extent to which it is worth pursuing. Teachers can expand this by posing these questions: Was war a necessary means to bring about the end of slavery in the United States? Was war justified to end the Holocaust? To retaliate against the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor? To halt Iraq from invading Kuwait? To hunt down terrorists after the September 11, 2001, attacks on American soil? And what about the current wars in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza? Looking at multiple viewpoints on war can deepen student understanding of military action and opposition to it. By examining these complicated issues together, teachers and students can facilitate movement beyond partisan rhetoric to more principled and consistent stands on what, if anything, justifies war. For the more limited context of this article, this section details writing strategies that help students consider multiple perspectives related to My Brother Sam is Dead and The Fighting Ground.

When readers stay close to a single narrator who is the main character of a story, they often tend to focus primarily on that character’s perspective of circumstances. The Fighting Ground and My Brother Sam is Dead, as is typical of young adult literature, are both told from the perspectives of teenagers. The following excerpt from Avi’s novel shows the perspective of thirteen-year-old protagonist Jonathan.

Maybe, [Jonathan] thought as he ran, maybe it was going to be a battle, a big one. Maybe he would take a part.
O Lord, he said to himself, make it be a battle. With armies, big ones, and cannons and flags and drums and dress parades! Oh, he could, would fight. Good as his older brother. Maybe good as his pa. Better maybe. O Lord, he said to himself, make it something grand![18]

That perspective is likely to be different than that of Jonathan’s father who has experienced the tragedy and brutality of war firsthand. This assignment requires students to choose a character and situation from the novel and look at it through another character’s perspective. Students will write a poem, letter, or journal entry showing that character’s thoughts and/or concerns. Below shows a student stepping into the perspective of the father by writing a poem in response to My Brother Sam is Dead.

Waiting

(from the perspective of Sam’s father)

By Heather Laughlin

I told him to go back in the house
And wait.
He was supposed to be with his mother.
He was not supposed to leave the house.
His ma says he asked to go see what was going on.
I specifically told him to go inside
And wait.

He talked his ma into letting him go.
He has always been able to manipulate.
He always does what he wants.
Stubborn he was.
He should have
Waited.

When he didn’t come home that night,
I knew something was wrong.
As the night passed, I slept not one wink.
I can’t even talk to my wife.
I can’t even look at her for letting him leave.
But I know it’s not her fault.

The next morning I went to go find him.
I overheard a man saying a young boy went to fight.
He should have
Waited.

When I heard they hadn’t come back,
I thought I’d never see my son again.
I wish he would have
Waited.

I spent the day out at the farm
That was when I had last seen him.

I revisited our last time together several
Times in my mind.

My only wish was to see him walk
Back through the place he left.

Through the trees
When he went to go “wait.”

It made it easier being at the farm,
I could let my frustrations
Out there.
I pictured Jonathan walking back through the trees
So many times.
So many times that when I actually saw him,
I couldn’t believe my own eyes.

I still wouldn’t have had this experience
If only
He had waited.

Focus on Word-Image Senses

In addition to students exploring specific questions, and composing poems, letters or journal entries to demonstrate their textual understanding, this next activity focuses student attention on the language of the text. This activity, adapted from Harry Noden’s Image Grammar: Teaching Grammar as Part of the Writing Process, is designed to engage the senses and imagination and connect those with student writing.[19]

To begin, the teacher needs to select a passage from the novel that includes images and senses of war. Students should close their eyes as the teacher reads the passage aloud. As students listen to the text, they will mentally put themselves into the story to imagine the smells, feelings, tastes and other senses associated with the event. By picturing the event in their minds, students demonstrate that they can visualize both accurately and abstractly. After this visualization, students will list words, phrases and images that stood out to them. Finally, the students will rewrite the original paragraph using senses and images evoked from their visualization. This will provide an opportunity for students to integrate their personal knowledge, thoughts and/or experiences of war-like events as they elaborate on the text in a way that brings it to life with visualization and imagery.

Below is an example of the three-step process involved in Focus on Word-Image Senses. First is a paragraph is from My Brother Sam is Dead the teacher would read aloud while students have their eyes closed to imagine as much detail as possible:

He darted around the house toward the road, his eyes following the hoof prints in the snow. I snatched up a shovel and drove the remaining four cattle back into the barn with the handle. They were balky, and it took me a few minutes to get them inside and the door shut and latched. Then I raced across the snow around the house to the road. There I stopped and swung my eyes across the horizon. I saw nothing, but distantly heard the noise of shouting off toward the far end of the training ground. I ran in the direction of the sounds, and then suddenly, I saw three men walking toward me through the moonlight, side by side. I stopped and waited. They came up. The one in the middle was Sam. His nose was bleeding and there was a cut on his chin. His hands were tied behind his back.[20]

Second is a student example of words, images and phrases that came to mind upon listening to the excerpt. Noden’s guidelines for picturing specific details are for students to engage all of their senses to focus on sounds, odors, aromas, tastes, touch, textures, and imagine themselves with a lens that can zoom in on images. Students may also consider what emotions and feelings they experience as they listen to the except. Here is student Kristen Cartwright’s list of Word-Image Senses.

Rusty smell of blood
Heavy breathing
Smell of cow manure
Dirty hands, faces, clothing
Fists clenched
Eyes ablaze
Confusion and bewilderment
Gaping mouth
Rosy cheeks and noses from the cold
Nostrils flaring
Seeing your breath in the cold moonlight

Third, after completing the list of associated word-image senses, students go back to the original passage—this time having it in print so they can see it—and rewrite it, incorporating items from their list and adding descriptive details. Students may also apply personal knowledge, thoughts and/or experiences to elaborate on the original excerpt. Following shows how Kristen Cartwright rewrote the original passage using this technique.

Sam sprinted around the house toward the road as fast as he could, his eyes following the suspicious hoof prints in the snow. I grabbed a shovel and drove the remaining four cattle back into the barn with the handle, poking and prodding them. They were acting ornery, so it took me a few minutes to get them inside the barn and the door locked shut. Then, following Sam’s footprints that were laid out in the snow, I scurried toward the road to find him and see what was happening. I brought myself to a halt and gazed rapidly across the horizon looking for my brother. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, but I heard the noise of yelling from off toward the far end of the training ground. I barreled off in the direction of the sounds, and then suddenly I saw three men walking toward me in the moonlight, all in a row. I stopped and waited for them to approach me with my guard up. They came up to me without saying a word. The one in the middle was Sam. His nose was bleeding heavily out of both nostrils and there was a jagged cut on his chin that looked deep. His hands were tied behind his back with what looked like a piece of rope taken from the barn.

Using Objects to Help Visual Learners Remember Turning Points

Along with having students focus on the imagery of the text, having them collect artifacts and compile related quotes will assist them in looking for crucial turning points in the lives of characters. The artifacts and quotes could be compiled in a grocery bag, shoebox or suitcase. Students might even elect to design a unique container of their own choosing. Student Amanda Saccany sewed a head made of felt and filled it with objects to serve as a learning tool for The Fighting Ground. Figure 1 shows the student’s creation. The cow is to represent when Jonathan milked the cow and discovered the young French boy. The horse figurine reminds readers of how the corporal sat tall and proud on his horse while the other soldiers walked behind him. Symbols, such as the American flag, represent the idealism and pride Jonathan felt when envisioning an independent America; these ideas drew him into and carried him through the war. The key words and phrases demonstrate the overall tone and theme of the book and revealed Jonathan’s feelings (e.g., courage, confidence, shame) at various points. The student also included several quotes from the novel to help readers remember specific moments that helped to shape Jonathan’s story and experience with war.

Figure 1: Felt Head Filled with Objects Representing Jonathan’s Journey to War.

Poem for Three Voices

This final activity blends student creativity and critical thinking as students compose a poem demonstrating differing viewpoints. Building on the concept of Poems for Two Voices where lines are arranged on the page for two readers,[21] the Poem for Three Voices works especially well to convey multiple perspectives on war and its meaning in My Brother Sam is Dead. In composing their Poem for Three Voices, students could include three characters from the book (e.g., Sam, Tim, Eliphalet) or the British, Patriots, and God or any combination thereof. An additional option would be to invite students to include their own voice, perhaps as mediators of the conflict offering alternative solutions, compromise, and diplomacy.

Reading a poem for three voices is not difficult, but it does take some initial instruction for those seeing such a poem for the first time. Three readers are required to read a poem for three voices. Ideally the three readers stand or sit next to each other in the order that matches the column each will read from. Reader one will read all of the lines in column one of the poem. Reader two will read all of the lines in column, and reader three will read all of the lines in column three. Readers should pay attention to see that when reading across the page in the same line or row, sometimes there are only words in one column, sometimes in two columns, and sometimes in all three columns. When the line appears in only one column, only that speaker’s voice will be heard. If the line appears in two or three columns, then two or three voices will be heard, spoken in unison. Sometimes the speakers will have the same words spoken in unison, while other times speakers will have different words spoken in unison. This is intentional, as it provides writers of the poems for three voices with ways to emphasize commonalities and illuminate different viewpoints. When reading poems for two or three voices aloud—and they are intended to be heard—it is important to enunciate and not to rush. There is a lot going on, a lot for listeners to take in, so it is best to take one’s time when performing multi-voice poems.

The example Poem for Three Voices provided in Figure 2 includes the voices of a Patriot soldier (left), a British soldier (center), and the family member left behind (as Tim was in My Brother Sam is Dead). Brian Zeit, poem’s author, described the voices this way:

The Patriot soldier is motivated and strong, hoping for war in order to preserve his cause and fight for the ability to rule his own land . . . The British [soldiers] didn’t believe as vehemently in the war as the Patriots and had more factors to miss such as not being able to, at some point, be close to home as Sam was and go to talk to their families. They were still for the war, however, and willing to do their duty . . . [The voice of the family member left behind is] attempting to understand the reason for the war in the first place.

While acknowledging the sacrifices of the soldiers, Brian, a college junior in Army ROTC, added:

It would be unfair to read [My Brother Sam is Dead] and only talk about how war affects a soldier’s life. At the end of the poem the soldiers end up giving the ultimate sacrifice, something that has been honored through statues and walls with names on them. The family member, however, lost a son, a provider, a livelihood, and depending on who the departed one was supporting, possibly his/her own land. This is never mentioned at the end of wars, so I thought it best to mention it in this poem.

Figure 2: Poem for Three Voices

Thoughts On War
By Brian Zeit
This poem includes three perspectives: Patriot Soldier (left column), British Soldier (center column), and Family Member Left Behind (right column).

War War War
Freedom
Power
Loss
It’s the only way It’s the only way
For America’s freedom
To show British strength
To rule ourselves
To keep our rule
It’s not the only way.
I miss my Brother
I miss my homeland
I miss my dad
I miss my life
I missed! I miss . . . I miss . . .
Keep steady boys!
Keep the line men!
Keep the faith Mom.
It’ll be over soon It’ll be over soon It’ll be over soon
A bullet tore my jacket
These boots are worn thin
There’ll be no food next year
War War War
Remember the cause

Keep it close to your heart

Remember your King

Keep him in your thoughts

Remember your son

Keep him in your prayers

Did you hear that? Did you hear that? Did you hear that?
A shot!
A cannon!
A door!

Maybe it’s Sam!

Maybe it’s friendly!
Maybe we’ll fight!
War! War!
Hope!
I wrote a letter today
Back to home
I hope he gets it
I told them that I’m fine
That I miss him so
And I hope he’s safe.
It’ll be over soon It’ll be over soon
It never seems to end.
War. War. War.
I lost my life I lost my life
I lost everything . . .

Closing Remarks

While the Reader Response questions are specific to My Brother Sam is Dead and The Fighting Ground, the other learning activities presented in this article are readily adaptable to Johnny Tremain and other literary texts. Across the activities, students delve deep into the texts in ways that engage them in close reading and story analysis while also providing ample opportunities to demonstrate creativity and personal emotional connections with each text. As America approaches 250, the longstanding Newbery classics Johnny Tremain, My Brother Sam is Dead and The Fighting Ground should be brought to the fore for their ability to immerse readers into rich literacy experiences and bring history to life.

 

 

[1] “Commemorating the 250th Anniversary of America,” America 250, 2021, america250.org/about-america250/.

[2] “John Newbery Medal,” Association for Library Service to Children, American Library Association, 2024, www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newbery.

[3] Esther Forbes, Paul Revere and the World He Lived In (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1942).

[4] Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain (Detroit, MI: Gale, 2004), 440.

[5] Ibid., 383.

[6] Ibid., 438.

[7] Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Landlord’s Tale. Paul Revere’s Ride,” Poetry Foundation, 1860, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44637/the-landlords-tale-paul-reveres-ride.

[8] Ronald Blackington, “Johnny Tremain and the Members of the Long Room Clubs: Introduction and Background,” Massachusetts Historical Society, 2005, www.masshist.org/education/johnny-tremain-and-members-long-room-club, 6.

[9] James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier, My Brother Sam is Dead, Scholastic Gold ed. (New York, NY: Scholastic, 2005).

[10] Avi, The Fighting Ground, 25th Anniversary ed. (New York: NY: Harper Collins, 2009).

[11] Ted Kesler, Reader Response Notebook: Teaching Toward Agency, Autonomy, and

Accountability (Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2018).

[12] Avi, The Fighting Ground, 3.

[13] Ibid., 15.

[14] Ibid., 42.

[15] Ibid., 62.

[16] Ibid., 121.

[17] Ibid., 150.

[18] Ibid., 9.

[19] Harry R. Noden, Image Grammar: Teaching Grammar as Part of the Writing Process 2nd ed. (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2011).

[20] Collier and Collier, My Brother Sam is Dead, 181.

[21] Paul Fleishman, Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices (New York, NY: Harper Trophy, 2019).

One thought on “Teaching About Young Patriots through Newbery Classic Novels: Johnny Tremain, My Brother Sam is Dead, and The Fighting Ground

  • I read Esther Forbes’ Johnny Tremain 63 years ago. I have credited that story to the beginning of my love
    of history and historical fiction. I would have loved to be able to relate the streets in the Revolutionary times to the current times. To imagine what Kings Chapel, the docks, Charlestown and the Boston Common all looked like then to now.
    I hope to read this with my grandchildren, to introduce them to the founding of this great country; to the sacrifices and joys that have allowed us to enjoy the freedom we have now.
    Elaine Lyons, resident of Weymouth/Boston for 73 years….with a few years spent in Hawaii and Georgia!

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