Children Books on Nelson Mandela – Read out loud/ book talk

Developer’s Name:

Dolana Mogadime, PhD., M.Ed., B.Ed., OCT


Grades 2-4

Lesson Description:

Cooper, F. (1996) Mandela: From the Life of the South African Statesman. New York : Philomel Books

The book supports critical conversations with young learners. The pictures and images invite conversations. Guiding questions are provided as springboards to facilitate learning experiences. The book can be opened, and pictures can be explored before reading the actual text. During the Ubuntu Activate stage, teachers can ask questions that inspire students’ visual imagination about Nelson Mandela’s childhood. The book begins with a view into the environment where Mandela spent his childhood. It demonstrates a sense of the play that occupied children’s time.

The death of Nelson’s father meant his mother took him to live in another village with an uncle that was a chief. Nelson learned a great deal from the elders about the history of his people, especially the wars that had been fought between the Africans and the Europeans for the land. Nelson was sent to a Christian school whereas not all his friends were able to go to school. When he grew into a young man he went to the city of Johannesburg where he became a lawyer and defended African people who were not able to defend their own rights. He joined a group of people that wanted their rights protected. After struggling to be heard he was jailed because he spoke for his people when he was told he could not.

Lesson Objectives:

  • Identify and locate the village in South Africa where Nelson Mandela was born
  • Understand that education is the right of all children
  • Appreciate that a name is an important part of our identity
  • Children will inquiry into how they were named

Relevant Ontario Curriculum:

Language – Oral Communication

  1. listen in order to understand and respond appropriately in a variety of situations for a variety of purposes;
  2. use speaking skills and strategies appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes;
  3. reflect on and identify their strengths as listeners and speakers, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful in oral communication situations.

Social Studies – Heritage and Identity

A2. Inquiry: use the social studies inquiry process to investigate some of the past and present traditions and celebrations within their own family and the communities to which they belong (FOCUS ON: Continuity and Change).


B1. Application: describe some similarities and differences in the ways in which people in two or more communities in different parts of the world meet their needs and have adapted to the location, climate, and physical features of their regions (FOCUS ON: Cause and Consequence)

B2. Inquiry: use the social studies inquiry process to investigate aspects of the interrelationship between the natural environment, including the climate, of selected communities and the ways in which people in those communities live (FOCUS ON: Interrelationships; Patterns and Trends)

B3. Understanding Context: identify and locate various physical features and selected communities around the world, and describe some aspects of people’s ways of life in those communities (FOCUS ON: Significance)

Relevant Ontario Curriculum Documents

Human Rights Instruments:

The Convention on the Rights of the Child

  • Article 7 (Registration, name, nationality, care): All children have the right to a legally registered name, officially recognised by the government. Children have the right to a nationality (to belong to a country). Children also have the right to know and, as far as possible, to be cared for by their parents.
  • Article 31 (Leisure, play and culture): Children have the right to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic and other recreational activities.
  • Article 28: (Right to education): All children have the right to a primary education, which should be free.


Lesson Plan Details by Stages of African Epistemology:

Activate and Reflect


Reflect and Connect

Reflect and Connect

Reflect and Connect



Vocabulary and Reading for Meaning

Names: Rolihlahla was the name given to Mandela by the family. Nelson is the name given to him by the teacher. It was not from Mandela’s culture. This was a colonial practice forced onto students at school.

Activities: Play, occurs in specific settings such as the outdoor games

Naming: Name given – by family; Name given – at school by a teacher

Chosen: Nelson was ‘chosen’ to go to school. Are you ‘chosen’ or does everyone in Canada go to school when they are 13 years old?

Joining the Ancestors: What does joining the ancestors mean? In Canada when someone dies, we say they passed away? It is a custom to believe that people are alone when they die. In South Africa, it is a tradition to believe that when a person dies they join the ancestors.

Critical Literacy – Critical Reading – Author’s intent

What is the hidden message when someone is told not to use the name they were given at birth by their parents? What if the name was given to respect cultural traditions? What does that say to the people that gave the name first? Do you think their language was valued or not? Was it respected or not? What does a child have to give up when they cannot use their real name?

Make Intertextual Connections with Indigenous Children’s Literature

Have students think about children’s books about residential schools where Indigenous students were not allowed to use their real needs. Instead they were forced to use a number. Names are everything. When your name is taken away your identity is also taken away. How would you feel, if all of a sudden you were told you could not use your real name?

Venn Diagram – Identify, Compare and Contrast – What are the Similarities and Difference?

Naming can be a tradition in many families. Ask the class to investigate naming traditions in their family and culture. The teacher can develop a set of processes that occur when a child is named. For example, they can be named by their mother or father or according to an event that occurred at the time of their birth; or named after a relative. A Venn diagram can be created to visually show what is similar and what is different in how children the class were named.


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Mandela Global Human Rights: Peace, Reconciliation and Responsibility Copyright © by Dolana Mogadime (Ed.) Project Lead is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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