The Day Gogo Went to Vote: South Africa April 1994

The Day Gogo Went to Vote: South Africa April 1994 by Elinor Batezat Sisulu. Illustrated by Sharon Wilson.

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Published by Little, Brown and Company. Boston, MA. 1996

Like other schools, around the United States, our students observed citizens standing in tedious, chilly weathered lines outside the doors to our gymnasium, exercising their right to vote; all while anticipating their own ballots for the mock election held in our warm corridors in the grade-one wing.

What kinds of conversations were the classroom teachers having with students regarding the 2012 presidential election? I didn’t exactly know. Fortunately, I was able to facilitate some classroom discussions on the importance of voting, with the use of Sisulu’s picture book, The Day Gogo Went to Vote.  “Gogo” means grandmother in Zulu, and Xhosa.  I hadn’t heard of this book before today. During a grade-level meeting in the library this morning, I turned my head to peruse the titles of the plastic-protected, dusty, picture books on the eye-level shelf to my left. What is the first book I see? Yes. The above mentioned book is what I saw. I grab it, read it before the meeting starts, and fell in love with it.

Two teachers allowed me to read it to their class today, complete with scaffolding on the history of injustices for the African diaspora. Although this story is set in South Africa, during the first election black folks were allowed to vote in after the end of Apartheid, it’s parallels to the United States presidential electoral process are undeniable.

What does my scaffolding entail you ask? Abundant affirmation for my students, so they know their strength, beauty, and importance to this country, and any country they may live in during their lifetime; and other truths.

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“Gogo showed her identity book to the voting officers. They then put Gogo’s hands under a machine. I asked them what it was for.”

Today, I was assigned to do ESL instruction in three classrooms. Two out of the three teachers agreed to my mini-lesson mentioned above instead.  I didn’t stick to the original schedule because I don’t come to work to play teacher. I come to educate children. Ase.

K2-5 School Mock Election Results:   368 for President Obama. 40 for candidate Romney.

Thank you for reading The Picture Book Pusher.

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