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A Teacher’s Guide for Grades 4-5:

Riding Freedom

Riding Freedom is the fictionalized life story of Charlotte “Charley” Parker and her inspiring journey to pursue her passions during a time when girls’ and women’s freedom was seriously limited. We chose this novel for its thoughtful attention to some powerful social and emotional themes: gender, determination, perseverance, freedom, identity, and resilience. Although this book is set in Gold Rush-era America, the novel is deeply relevant for young readers today; this curriculum will help students build connections between Charlotte’s moving story and their own.

In this fictionalized biography of Charlotte Parkhurst, we meet a girl who is passionate about horses.  But the man who oversees the orphanage where she lives insists that girls her age shouldn’t be stable hands–it’s just not proper!  Charlotte makes a brave decision: she escapes from the orphanage, cuts her hair, changes her clothes, and re-names herself Charley to begin her first job as a stable hand.  Her skill with horses leads her to California during the Gold Rush era, where she becomes famously known as a brave and cunning stagecoach driver. Ultimately, Charlotte settles on a farm in California, something she had always dreamed of, and invites old friends from the orphanage and her first boss, to come work and live with her.  Charlotte’s story traces the bold decisions made by a girl dead-set on accessing the opportunities that allow her to live her passions.

Author:  Pam Muñoz Ryan

Our Reading with Relevance teacher’s guide breaks the novel into a series of thoughtful lesson plans. Each lesson is designed to support you to meaningfully explore the social and emotional themes of the day’s reading with your students, inspiring them to read deeply, think critically, talk openly, and write reflectively about topics that matter.

This teacher’s guide includes:

  • A facilitator’s guide with tips and resources for implementing the curriculum.
  • A map of Common Core Standards addressed through this program.
  • Ten individual lesson plans, including vocabulary, discussion questions, journal prompts, extension activities, and all handouts.
  • Two assessments to monitor student progress throughout the program.
  • Regular checkpoints to help teachers assess their students’ progress on ELA standards.
  • A culminating essay-writing unit.
  • An appendix with additional teaching resources and activities to continue exploring this novel.

Pages: 76
Dimensions: 8.5” x 11”



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