Her Right Foot

Her Right Foot
Written by Dave Eggers, Illustrated by Shawn Harris

Publisher’s Summary:
In this fascinating and fun take on nonfiction for kids, Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris investigate a seemingly small trait of America’s most emblematic statue. What they find is about more than history, more than art. What they find in the Statue of Liberty’s right foot is the powerful message of acceptance that is essential of an entire country’s creation.

Primary Source Pairing:
While there is one central message of the book Her Right Foot, there are many opportunities for extending the story using primary source analysis. Depending on the age of the students and the instructional time, spread out the reading of the book and primary source analysis into multiple lessons.

For this primary source pairing, invite students to study a photograph of “Workmen constructing the Statue of Liberty in Bartholdi’s Parisian warehouse workshop; first model; left hand; and quarter-size head” from Winter of 1882. This image was perhaps the inspiration of illustrator Shawn Harris as he created the two-page spread found on pages 13-14. Notice if any students pick up on this connection. Use the visual evidence in the book and compare similarities in the primary source.

Additional primary source pairings include learning more about statue creator Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, studying a painting showing the boat Isère arriving in New York with the Statue of Liberty, reading the Declaration of Independence that was signed on July 4, 1776 (the date shown on the book in the Statue of Liberty’s left hand), studying a map to identify the seven seas and seven continents on Earth as represented on the Statue of Liberty’s crown, or connecting the book’s message with primary sources from current events.

An alternate approach to this lesson is to flip the primary source analysis and the reading of the book. Use the “Workmen constructing the Statue of Liberty” photograph as an anticipatory set for the storytime or lesson using Her Right Foot. Experiment with one grade analyzing first and another grade with reading first. Reflect on the level of inquiry. Use this data to guide your primary source integration with students.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What people and objects are shown?
  • How are they arranged?
  • What is the physical setting?
  • What’s happening in the image?
  • Find something small but interesting.
  • What do you notice that you didn’t expect?
  • What do you notice that you can’t explain?
  • Make a visual connection to what you see in the primary source to something you see in the book Her Right Foot on pages 13-14.

Workmen constructing the Statue of Liberty in Bartholdi’s Parisian warehouse workshop; first model; left hand; and quarter-size head: Library of Congress
Book Cover and Summary: Follett

Additional Primary Source Pairings:
Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi: Wikipedia
Isère Arriving in New York: Wikimedia Commons
Declaration of Independence: archives.gov
Map of the Earth: Wikipedia