5 Resources for Teaching the Harlem Renaissance

Explore five of our favorite resources for teaching the Harlem Renaissance this school year.

One of the most influential periods in American History is the Harlem Renaissance, an intellectual, social, and artistic movement originating in Harlem, New York City. It’s one of my favorite historical periods to share with students, as there are many interactive and engaging resources on the art, music, performances, and historical figures of that time. 

Below are some of my favorite resources for teaching about the black artists responsible for making the Harlem Renaissance so iconic: 

  1. Harlem Renaissance | Uncovering America. This is a great lesson resource because it includes examples of art and photography and asks students to relate the art to current-day issues. 
  2. There is also a great collection of materials and activities for younger students on the Sheppard Software website, including a memory game and an online painting activity. 
  3. What Was the Harlem Renaissance? This video segment from A Walk Through Harlem looks at the Harlem Renaissance’s beginnings in New York City.
  4. Primary Source Set: Visual Art during the Harlem Renaissance: This collection from the Digital Public Library of America uses primary sources to explore visual art during the Harlem Renaissance. Discussion questions are included, or have students create their own!
  5. Literary Icons You NEED to Know From the Harlem Renaissance |It’s Lit! In this video from It’s Lit, students will learn about literary icons from the Harlem Renaissance and explore how art is shaped by identity, culture, and society. 

Extension Idea:

One fun way to encourage students to think like a Harlem Renaissance artist is to create their own art in the same fashion as someone from that time period. For example, challenge students to photograph mass movements of people today in the same style as Jacob Lawrence painted people during the Great Migration. Another way is to encourage students to write their own poetry in the style of Langston Hughes’ “Mother to Son,” and create a poem encouraging someone else. Undoubtedly, there are so many ways to introduce students to the Harlem Renaissance and immerse them in the culture and arts that came from this period–these are just a few of my favorites!

Aubree Mitchell is a library media specialist in Halifax County Public Schools and is an eMediaVA Ambassador.

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