On the Shoulders of Giants

My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance

On the Shoulders of Giants

  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416534891 | 
  • December 2010
List Price $21.99 (price may vary by retailer)


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Reading Group Guide

LESSON PLANS: On The Shoulders of Giants
My Personal Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance
By Kareem Abdul-Jabbar


This book is about the Harlem Renaissance and the development, accomplishments, and history of a people. But it is also about a man and his development, accomplishments, and history. Using a classic "call and response" format, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar explores the history and the significance of his culture's "rebirth." He examines what it meant not just for his own life but for the lives of everyone, black and white, who inherited its rich legacy and benefited from the writing, art, and music that the men and women of the Harlem Renaissance created.


1. A world map is an excellent way to help students understand the migration of people as well as of art, music, and literature throughout the text. A map of New York City dated between 1920 and 1940, with a detail of Harlem and a current map of the same would also be useful to students. For an extra level of detail, use Google's free satellite imagery at earth.google.com.

2. Photographs from the Harlem Renaissance would also be helpful in order for students to visualize those whom they are studying. Such images might include photographs of the writers, musicians, historians, and athletes Abdul-Jabbar refers to in the text. You might also include images of art from the period like Aaron Douglas's see more

About the Author

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Photo Credit:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is recognized by Sports Illustrated and Time magazine as history's greatest basketball player (he is the NBA's all-time leading scorer). The author of several New York Times bestsellers, Kareem's previous books include Giant Steps, Kareem, Black Profiles in Courage, A Season on the Reservation, and Brothers in Arms. Since his retirement as a player in the NBA, Kareem has worked as a special assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers and acted as a volunteer coach for children on the White Mountain Apache reservation in Whiteriver, Arizona. On the Shoulders of Giants is currently in production as a documentary film.