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March 30

Black Beauty author Anna Sewell was born in 1820.

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Black Beauty author Anna Sewell was born in 1820.

Grades 3 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Author & Text





Anna Sewell's novel about a horse named Black Beauty touched a responsive chord in readers of many ages when it was first published in 1877. It remains a classic novel, one that speaks to contemporary readers as well.




In Black Beauty, Anna Sewell tackled one of the contemporary issues of her time, the cruel treatment of horses, many of them abused by their owners. Her work made readers aware of the need for laws to protect animals from harsh and abusive treatment.

After exploring the cruelty to animals in Sewell's novel, extend the discussion to current events. Divide students into pairs or small groups and ask them to conduct some research into the use of animals in testing drugs, cosmetics, and other products. Be sure to have online as well as traditional print resources available. Student groups should compile and present the information for and against using animals to test various substances.



  • Anna Sewell

    Penguin Group publishing offers this biography of Sewell. Students can read about her childhood, her love of horses, and her gift for writing.

  • Mary and Anna Sewell

    This site provides a biography of both Anna Sewell and her mother. They were both writers of juvenile fiction.

  • Black Beauty

    Project Gutenberg makes available downloadable versions of Sewell's classic text.

  • ASPCA: Kids and Pets

    The ASPSCA offers this informational website for children. Students can access information about adopted pets, alternatives to dissection, animal-safe science projects, and more.


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Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Name That Chapter! Discussing Summary and Interpretation Using Chapter Titles

Students name unnamed chapters in a novel they are reading. They discuss possible chapter names, considering accuracy, word choice, and connotation, before settling on a choice.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Unit

Lights, Camera, Action: Interviewing a Book Character

Students get the inside scoop on a story when they create interview questions and answers for characters in the books they read.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: A Character's Letter to the Editor

Students write a persuasive letter to the editor of a newspaper from a selected fictional character's perspective, focusing on a specific issue or situation explored in the novel.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Dear Librarian: Writing a Persuasive Letter

Students write persuasive letters to their librarian requesting that specific texts be added to the school library. As they work, students plan their arguments and outline their reasons and examples.