Teaching History with Children’s Literature: George Washington Carver

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Did you know that George Washington Carver developed hundreds of uses for peanuts, sweet potatoes, and soybeans? In George Washington Carver, a biography by Tonya Bolden, students can read the inspirational and impressive life of George Washington Carver, the brilliant “Wizard of Tuskegee.”

Whether teaching subjects such as botany and chemistry or techniques such as deep plowing and crop rotation, Carver sought to instill in his students the belief that it was best to treasure nature and not just take from it.

‘The farmer whose soil produces less every year, is unkind to it in some way,’ he stated in The Negro Farmer, a Tuskegee-based journal. Those who were unkind to the soil- ‘soil robbers,’ he called them – were ultimately harming themselves.

The book emphasizes Carver’s love for nature and preservation of the planet. He believed that any substance a person might need could be produced from plants.

Curriculum Connections
This biography can be used to teach scientific method, agriculture, history, and art to elementary school students. In conjunction with a botany lesson, students can explore how farmers keep soil healthy, through methods like crop rotation.

In Virginia, George Washington Carver can be used to teach Social Studies SOL 1.2, which asks students to describe the stories of American leaders such as George Washington Carver and their contributions to our country.

Additional Resources

  • George Washington Carver was an agricultural genius, a scientist, and a writer, but did you know that he was also an artist? Explore this extensive art curriculum that teaches about George Washington Carver’s methods.
  • The US Department of Agriculture provides printable puzzles, riddles, math practice, and coloring pages from an activity book about George Washington Carver.
  • This lesson plan incorporates biology in the exploration of George Washington Carver’s processes, products, and accomplishments.

Book: George Washington Carver
Author/Illustrator: Tonya Bolden
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 41 pages
Grades: 1-5
ISBN: 9-780810-993662