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Ryan, P. & Selznick, B. (2002). When Marian sang. New York: Scholastic Press

GLE (grade level equivalent):  3.9

DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) level:  40 (4th grade)

Guided reading:  R (4th grade)

Lexile measure:  780L (4th to 7th grade range)

40 pages

Key words and vocabulary:  distinct, velvety, duet, harmony, contralto, tuition, colored, clanking, prejudice, trolley, unwavering, Metropolitan Opera, accompanist, Jim Crow, humiliations, strained, opulent, recitals, trepidation, twinges, encores, momentous, utter, surge.


Literal, Inferential and Application Questions for the reader:

LITERAL (reading “on the lines”)

1.  Why did people call Marian the “pride of South Philadelphia”? (see page 6)

2.  What happened at the Music School to Marian when she was 18?  (see page 9)

3.  Who was Mr. Boghetti and why was he important in Marian’s life? (see pages 17 and 19)

4.  Why did Marian Anderson have to sing on the steps outside at the Lincoln Memorial? (see pages 24-26)

INFERENTIAL (reading “between the lines”)

1.  Why could Marian sing to white audiences but then have to ride the “Jim Crow car” on the train between performances?  (Why was entertaining whites acceptable for a black person but sitting next to whites not?)

2.  What traits can you infer Mr. Boghetti as having after reading that he instantly accepted Marian as a student and even told her, “…I will only need two years with you.  After that, you will be able to go anywhere and sing for anybody,” (page 17)?

3.  Why did the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resign from the Daughters of the American Revolution?  What message do you think she was sending by doing so?

APPLICATION (reading “beyond the lines”)

1.  After enduring humiliations based on skin color, would you still want to sing with dignity to white audiences like Marian did?  Why or why not?

2.  Why could Marian sing to mixed race audiences in Europe but not in America?


See 30 minute Marian Anderson video at National Geographic.

See also Marian Anderson at The Biography.com website.

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