Teacher Resources

“We really appreciated all the insights that you shared regarding the development of this story as well as your family history. We look forward to reading your next book.”

-Alicia Bell, Librarian, Creecy Book Club, Southfield Public Library, Southfield, Michigan

“I know a small handful of the students acted as though they were disinterested, but the conversations over the next week proved otherwise. All of them (high school seniors) were very touched by your presentation and used a lot of what you said as they worked to write their own personal histories.”

-Sonya M. Pouncy, CEM, LEED-AP, CDSM, InsideOut Literary Arts Project, Detroit, Michigan

“The way Ms. Elster ties in struggles, events and people in history with modern-day problems (in the “Joe Joe in the City” series) is a wonderful way for the children to learn about important people in the past and apply what they’ve learned to their own lives. I’m not sure that I’ve seen many books that have done that for children—particularly for African-American children.”

-Mahrini Woods, Fourth Grade Teacher, Bloomfield Hills Schools (Michigan)

“Thanks again for the great stories and characters in the “Joe Joe in the City” series. They are now a staple in every class I teach.”

-Nichelle Boyd-Robinson, Ph.D., Assoc. Professor of Curriculum & Instruction, University of Mississppi

“…Elster blends personal, local, and national histories into a well-told narrative for readers of all ages. In addition to being a “great read,” (Who’s Jim Hines?) is an excellent resource for teaching about the city of Detroit during the 1930s.”

-Kristy Brugar, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Teacher Education, Social Studies, College of Education, Wayne State University

Using Jean Alicia Elster’s Books for Lessons

These language arts and social studies activities were crafted by a twenty-five year veteran of the Detroit Public Schools, elementary school teacher Jean Ford Fuqua, who was also an educator-director of teacher interns for the Wayne State University College of Education (currently retired from both positions). These lessons provide educators with the means to create language arts and social studies activities in the middle grade classroom via an examination of the portrayal of family and community life in the novels Who’s Jim Hines? and The Colored Car.

Lessons that Examine Family and Community Life within Who’s Jim Hines?— Language Arts/Social Studies Activities by Jean Ford Fuqua, BS, MEd
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Lessons that Examine Family and Community Life within The Colored Car— Language Arts/Social Studies Activities by Jean Ford Fuqua, BS, MEd
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Dr. Nichelle Boyd Robinson, Associate Professor, Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Mississippi, uses the “Joe Joe in the City” series extensively in both her undergraduate- and graduate-level teacher education courses. The following video link was part of her 2014 research project using the “Joe Joe in the City” books with third, fourth and fifth grade students at a Boys and Girls Club after-school program. The students were asked to reenact the scene in Just Call Me Joe Joe between Mr. Booth and Joe Joe after KC’s gang has trashed the store—while changing the encounter in some way. After each video, Dr. Boyd led a discussion with the students about the way each group changed the scene. The reenactments are shown in this video
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“The Joe Joe Series: A Culturally Responsive Resource” by Nichelle C. Boyd and Kantaylieniere Hill-Clarke, Social Studies and the Young Learner 17 (2), pp. 23-27 (Copyright 2004 National Council for the Social Studies) Click Here. To find this article in a library near you, visit ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) at www.eric.ed.gov and search article #EJ720480. This article offers educators a means with which to use children’s literature—through an examination of the “Joe Joe in the City” series—to great advantage in the social studies curriculum.

“Build the Knowledge and They Will Understand: Making Social Studies Relevant to the Under-Resourced Child” by Nichelle C. Boyd, Ed.D., All Children Can Learn: Effectively Educating the Under-Resourced Child by Williams-Black, Boyd, Key and Jones (Kendall Hunt Publishing Company 2009). For social studies-, reading/language arts-, science- and math-related classroom activities that embrace morals/values/character education utilizing the “Joe Joe in the City” series, see Appendix A: Lesson Plans that Bring Social Studies Topics to Life for Students,” pp. 33 – 36. ISBN 978-0-7575-6593-9


Dr. Nichelle Boyd-Robinson’s University of Mississippi doctoral students feature the “Joe Joe in the City” series during two conference presentation sessions.

The website for The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) offers a wide range of reading and literacy resources not only for educators but for parents and students as well.

This link on the website for The National Council of Teachers of English offers a wealth of classroom-tested lesson plans for grades elementary through high school.