Library Digital Content Access

African Novel Study

Created By: Seventh Grade Teachers at Lincoln Magnet School
Grade Level: 7th
Content Area: Language Arts and Social Studies
Database Integration: During the novel study, students and teachers will search the TDC database and discover resources to supplement the African thematic unit. Through this novel study and the resources supplied by the database, students will develop an understanding of the different cultures in various regions of Africa.

Illinois Learning Standards Achieved

Standard Achieved

Activity that Meets this Standard

STATE GOAL 1: Read with understanding and fluency.
A. Apply word analysis and vocabulary skills to comprehend selections.
B. Apply reading strategies to improve comprehension and fluency in a broad range of reading materials.
Students read their chosen novel independently and respond in a reading response journal, as well as in literature circle groups.
STATE GOAL 2: Read and understand literature representative of various societies, eras, and ideas.
A. Understand how literary elements and techniques are used to convey meaning.
Students will read novels, which take place in a variety of settings in Africa. They read a novel, which they have chosen from a specific culture and compare that to other students' novels and the cultures described in those novels.
STATE GOAL 3: Write to communicate for a variety of purposes.
A. Use correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization.
B. Compose well-organized and coherent writing.
Students will respond to their novels in a written response journal. They will also be given two extended response questions during the novel study.
STATE GOAL 4: Listen and speak effectively in a variety of situations.
A. Listen effectively in formal and informal situations.
B. Speak effectively using language appropriate to the situation and audience.
Students will communicate and discuss their African novels in literature circle groups.
STATE GOAL 5: Use the language arts to acquire, assess, and communicate information.
A. Locate, organize, and analyze information from various sources to answer questions, solve problems, and communicate ideas.
B. Apply acquired information, concepts, and ideas to communicate in a variety of formats.
Students read their chosen novel independently and respond in a reading response journal, as well as in literature circle groups.


African novels:

  • Journey to Jo'Burg by Beverly Naidoo
  • Chain of Fire by Beverly Naidoo
  • Angel of Mercy by Lurlene McDaniel
  • Angel of Hope by Lurlene McDaniel
  • The Storyteller's Beads by Jane Kurz
  • Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer
  • No Turning Back by Beverly Naidoo

reading response journals, prediction chart and anticipation guide, discussion questions chart, word study map, 4 square vocabulary chart, Bloom's taxonomy chart, setting sheet, 15-point question wheel, extended response organizer, compare/contrast chart, discussion evaluation sheet, classroom computers


  1. Teacher will introduce a variety of novels to the class by giving a class "book talk" about each novel.
  2. Students will write down their first, second, and third choice of a novel they would like to read.
  3. Explain to students how the literature circles will work. Each group will decide how many pages they will read each day or by the end of the week. Groups will sign up to meet with a teacher for discussion at least three times during the three-week period.
  4. Before reading activities: Students will make a prediction and complete an anticipation guide.
  5. Word Study: Students will complete two word maps and four 4-square vocabulary squares using new words from their novel.
  6. Comprehension: Students will be responsible for generating a list of questions for the assigned reading for the week. These questions will be used during the group discussions with the teacher. Students will use a 15-point question wheel and Bloom's Taxonomy to write their questions. Students will also complete a setting worksheet.
  7. Writing: Students will be given 2 Extended Response Questions at different times during the novel study. They will complete a graphic organizer and a written response to each question.
  8. At the end of each week a student from each group will give an update on their novel to the class.
  9. During the unit, students and teachers will utilize the database to locate resources which supplement the novel study.
  10. After completing the novels students will be put into groups with students who have read different novels. They will complete a large chart on butcher paper to compare their novels. The different categories will include title, setting, characters, problem, solution, and theme.
  11. Each group will present their chart to the class.


Students will be assessed during discussion groups, through their written response journals, and through their extended response questions. Each component has an assessment rubric, which will be shared with students prior to beginning the novel study.