RHONDA H. RUCKER:
"These authors are talented storytellers, musicians, and historians. The couple put on a lively show for our families in the evening and came back the next day to entertain our students with another show, which included a Brer Rabbit story. The authors sent me a teacher's guide which included an article that Rhonda has written in Highlights magazine, which she talks about in the show, and some other activities, and I forwarded it to my teachers. The teachers, parents, and students all loved the shows!"
RHONDA HICKS RUCKER practiced medicine for five years before becoming a full-time musician, author, and storyteller. Rhonda performs with her husband, James “Sparky” Rucker, adding vocals, piano, banjo, blues harmonica, and rhythmic bones to their music. They appeared on the Grammy-nominated CD, Singing Through the Hard Times, in 2009. Rhonda has recorded nine albums with her husband, and their 1991 release, Treasures and Tears, was nominated for the W.C. Handy Award for Best Traditional Recording.
SPARKY AND RHONDA performed for the Old Music for New Ears educational series for Kentucky Educational Television, for Storytelling in North America, (a National Geographic Society educational media project), and for Scholastic’s Teaching Resources projects. She and her husband have also been tellers-in-residence at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee.
Rhonda has been an author since 1998, publishing articles in newspapers, magazines, and books. For more information, visit Books and Articles.
Rhonda's picture book, Make a Change, is about a boy's surprise at his first civil rights demonstration. It is based on an actual incident in Sparky's life, an experience that steered him toward a lifelong commitment to freedom and justice. In this program, the Ruckers first teach how slavery sowed the seeds for upheaval during the 1950s and 1960s. Music was an essential part of the civil rights movement, instilling courage into people who protested unjust laws. Using spirited songs from the era, Sparky and Rhonda present the story of the movement, including the young children who participated.
Rhonda’s article, "Rescuing Miracle," was published in Highlights magazine. It tells the true story of a sick and starving black bear cub that got better with the help of a teddy bear. In this program, Rhonda and Sparky blend storytelling, science, music, and hand games to get students excited about reading and writing.
Rhonda’s historical novel for young readers, Swing Low, Sweet Harriet, is based on Harriet Tubman’s work as a spy and scout during the Civil War when she helped lead African American soldiers on the Combahee River raid in South Carolina. In this program, Rhonda and Sparky blend storytelling and music to help students learn about the Gullah Culture, Harriet Tubman, and the Civil War. The study guide that accompanies this program gives vocabulary words, background history, writing exercises, discussion topics, and recommended books to help expand learning opportunities.
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SPARKY AND RHONDA also give other educational programs in schools and libraries. For more information, go to Educational Programs