Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Title: Family Pictures
Pictures and Stories: Carmen Lomas Garza
Introduction: Sandra Cisneros
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Summary: Family Pictures is a story told by pictures through the eyes of a young girl, about a Latin American family that lived in Texas. This book is intended for children in first through fourth grade. The story is written in both Spanish and English. The little girl narrating the story tells about her dream of becoming an artist and how her mother inspired her to do all that she could. The pictures on each page depict different Latin inspired foods that the family prepared, and different traditions that the family took part in, showing the importance of family togetherness in Latin culture. The story tells about a religious tradition that the whole community participated in, which takes place on the nine nights before Christmas. The cake walk was a tradition that only those of Latin heritage took part in to raise money for students. The book ends talking about how the little girl and her sister used to go sit on their roof at night and dream of their future, and how their mother made their bed of dreams, and pushed them to be all they can be while showing them the importance of their heritage.
SJE: This represents the first element of SJE because although the little girl knew she wanted to be an artist and her mother inspired her to do so, she also learned the importance of herself and her culture and how her family truly embraced it. This book can help children realize they can be anything they set out to be and still incorporate their traditions in their life journey. The use of both Spanish and English in this book shows that the use of another language at home is very common and accepted in America. The book unfolds as the narrator comes to love herself, her culture and her ambition to be an artist.
Activity: I would use the book to have students do an activity where they think of all the traditions they take part in, in their community. They can then discuss in a group if other students share these traditions and if they are something of all cultural backgrounds, or of one cultural background. If no other student in the group shares the same traditions, they can then explain the traditions to one another and have a small imitation of the tradition in class.