A suggested talk for primary school children

Read part of William Roscoe's poem, The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast. You will probably need to explain that an 'emmet' is an ant. Tell the children that Roscoe wrote the poem for his own little boy, Robert. Ask them what sort of person Roscoe might have been. Ask whether the insects would have enjoyed the party he describes. Why would they have been happy to go to it? Were any of them more important than others? Were any of them treated badly? Were there any insects that could have hurt other ones? Did they?

Tell the children that the poem was written when Roscoe was a Member of Parliament. Explain that Parliament makes some very important decisions that affect our lives. Tell the children that, at that time, some owners of ships in this country used them to take people from Africa to be sold as slaves in other countries. Perhaps British people did not think that African people were as good as they were. At the time when Roscoe was in Parliament, the government was considering whether to stop the slave trade. Roscoe made a speech in the House of Commons arguing very strongly against the slave trade. He was a man who regarded everyone as equal in the sight of God. Thanks to Roscoe and other men in Parliament, the slave trade was abolished in the British Colonies 200 years ago. The Act of Parliament was passed on 25 March 1807.

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