Happy Birthday, Mrs. Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt was born October 11,1884 and died at the age of 78 on November 7, 1962.  Some Americans felt she was too outspoken as a First Lady.  Others thought she was a woman beyond her time. She worked with her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on programs that helped the nation recover from the Great Depression, and together they dealt with a nation at war.  Perhaps her greatest contribution came after her husband’s death when she began her work with the United Nations.   She oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  History has been kind to Mrs. Roosevelt, and it is important for the young to understand the difference she made to our nation, and to the world.

  • Introduce students to President Roosevelt so that they may understand the contribution Eleanor made to his administration by using the following books:

FDR’s Alphabet Soup: New Deal America 1932-1939 (elementary) by Tonya Bolden

FDR and the American Crisis (middle grade) by Albert Marrin

The Great Depression

Children of the Dust Bowl (middle grade) by Jerry Stanley

A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt (middle grade) by C. Coco De Young

Leo and the Lesser Lion (middle grade) set during the Depression by Sandra Forrester

The Mighty Miss Malone (middle grade) by Christopher Paul Curtis

  •  Read about Eleanor Roosevelt on the following websites. Then have readers write a one-page paper called “Eleanor Roosevelt: First Lady of the World.”

The White House: First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt

The Official First Ladies’ Website – First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

FDR Presidential Library & Museum Website

  • Have readers brainstorm all the things Eleanor Roosevelt cared about.  Then have them read a few of the following books and share how the book represents the spirit and believes of Mrs. Roosevelt.

As Good as Anybody (picture book) by Richard Michelson & illus. by Raul Colon

Dear Malala, We Stand with You (picture book) by Rosemary McCarney

Lillian’s Right to Vote (picture book) by Jonah Winter & illus. by Shane W. Evans

A New Coat for Anna (picture book) by Harriet Ziefert

A Thousand Never Evers (middle grade) by Shana Burg

Goodbye, Vietnam (young adult) by Gloria Whelan

Laugh with the Moon (middle grade) by Shana Burg

Sylvia & Aki (middle grade) by Winifred Conkling

Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina (middle grade) by Michaela DePrince and Elain DePrince

Before We Were Free (young adult) by Julia Alvarez

Children of the River (young adult) by Linda Crew

Enrique’s Journey (young adult) by Sonia Nazario

Hattie Ever After (young adult) by Kirby Larson

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer (young adult) by Irene Gut Opdyke with Jennifer Armstrong

One Thousand Paper Cranes (young adult) by Takayuki Ishil

The Red Umbrella (young adult) by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Slumgirl Dreaming (middle grade) by Ali Rubina in collaboration with Anne Berthod and Divya Dugar

  •  Have younger students make an appropriate birthday card for Mrs. Roosevelt from the viewpoint of a favorite main character.
  • Ask older readers to find out about Mrs. Roosevelt’s radio show. What was Mrs. Roosevelt’s focus on her radio show?
    The PBS Website
  • What social and political issues might she care about today?  For example what might be her views about immigration? The Pope’s agenda? Syrian War refugees?  Then plan a feature about one of the events in the style of Mrs. Roosevelt.
  • Ask readers to interpret the following quote by Mrs. Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”