Searching for Sarah Rector

Bolden, Tonya. Searching for Sarah Rector. Abrams, 2014. 80pp. Lexile 1050.

In my experience, many kids care about the topic  of money, making a book about the once-wealthiest black girl in America inherently interesting to them.  Sarah Rector was the descendant of slaves owned by the Creek Indian nation, who took them from the South to the West.  After the Civil War, those former slaves became known Creek freedmen and each one, including children, received an allotment of land in the area that is now Oklahoma.  In 1914, when Sarah Rector was 12, oil was found on her allotment and she started receiving royalties from a drilling company.  Along with the new wealth came problems such as who could be trusted to be her financial guardian.  Bolden sets the story skillfully in historical context of the slavery and the West.  Since facts about Sarah Rector are sparse and not always reliable, Bolden shares her research process with readers.  A gorgeous piece of bookmaking, the volume integrates photographs and other graphics to convey time, place, and people. Back matter includes an author’s note, glossary, source notes, bibliography, and index.

Reading Information Std #3: Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.  One of the key elements in Rector's story is the relationship between the Creek Indians and their African-American slaves, including what happened after the Civil War.  Have students trace that relationship through this book, and also compare each group's relationship with whites.  Interested students might pursue research about the Seminole Indians and black slaves.