1. Begin the lesson by reading the picture book A Picture Book of Jackie Robinson to the class. If you cannot get a copy of this book try one of the websites listed below for information. Discuss the information in the book with the students. Stress the difficulty he faced as the only African American in Major League Baseball.
2. Split the class into groups of four and distribute the primary source documents. These documents are copies of letters Jackie Robinson wrote to various political figures. Use the following letters from the National Archives:
Letter to President Eisenhower May 13, 1958
Letter to President Kennedy
February 9, 1961, Letter to President Johnson
April 18, 1967, Jackie Robinson Quotes
3. Have students look for themes in the letters and quotes and create a of list things these documents have in common. Have them compare and contrast these traits to his actions as a ballplayer. Students will list information on a poster and share with the class.
4. Have the students create a character web about Jackie Robinson. Have them write their own short biography of him based on what they learned from the primary source documents.
A Picture Book of Jackie Robinson, David A. Adler, Holiday House Publisher
National Archives Primary Source Documents
Short Biography of Jackie Robinson
Another Biography of Jackie Robinson
Various Character Maps
This lesson was developed by Robert McClelland, Cleveland Municipal School District.