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Black Boy

by Richard Wright  |  Grades: 9-12  |  Lexile Level: 950


Teaching Black Boy by Richard Wright

If you want a novel that will give you plenty of material as a springboard for discussion about civil rights, race relations, and the difficulty of growing up as an African-American (and all that goes with it), this is the book for you. 

At 448 pages, this book takes a while to get through, but because there is so much action in it, it does usually hold students' interest. Also, the length of the time of study is definitely worthwhile because the book offers so many opportunities to really delve into the moral, cultural, and social justice aspects of race relations--in the Jim Crow South as well as today.

Topics for discussion, writing assignments, projects, and activities abound in this Wright's Black Boy, so that during your unit study, you can easily cover a multitude of skills and standards as you explore this book.

The teacher guides and resources for Black Boy (below) will give you some great guidance and ideas for activities for teaching Richard Wright's originally highly controversial work.

Summary of Black Boy

Richard Wright grew up in the woods of Mississippi amid poverty, hunger, fear, and hatred. He lied, stole, and raged at those around him; at six he was a "drunkard," hanging about in taverns. Surly, brutal, cold, suspicious, and self-pitying, he was surrounded on one side by whites who were either indifferent to him, pitying, or cruel, and on the other by blacks who resented anyone trying to rise above the common lot.

Black Boy is Richard Wright's powerful account of his journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. It is at once an unashamed confession and a profound indictment—a poignant and disturbing record of social injustice and human suffering.

A Brief Biography of Richard Wright

Richard Wright (1908-1960) Richard Wright won international renown for his powerful and visceral depiction of the black experience. He stands today alongside such African-American luminaries as Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison, and two of his books, Native Son and Black Boy, are required reading in high schools and colleges across the nation. He died in 1960.

YouTube video about Richard Wright and the importance of his work.

 Available Teacher Guides, Lesson Plans, Novel Units, and Activities for Black Boy by Richard Wright: