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, October 11, 2010

This is the Dream

Title: This Is The Dream
Author: Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander
Illustrated by: James Ransome
More Information: Description/Author Information
Scholastic Suggested Activities
Grade Level: 2-3 grade

Summary: This book can be separated into two parts. First, it shows the ways in which African Americans were treated prior to the Civil Rights Movement. It shows many different examples of ways in which African Americans were poorly treated, such as, not being able to sit on the bus, drinking from different fountains and segregated schools. But it then shows how it took courageous people who stood up and fought for their rights for equality to exist.
SJE: This Is The Dream represents element 3 because it doesn't just celebrate that we are now a diverse nation, it shows how horrible African Americans were treated prior to the Civil Rights Movement. Also, this book does not shy away from the horrible ways in which whites acted towards African Americans. Though the words are simple and in a rhyme scheme, the illustrations say so much about the hatred that occurred. On one of the pages it specifically shows the four major figures during the Civil Rights Movement that truly changed the world we live in. In the end, it celebrates that we can live together equally, but that this was not an easy accomplishment.
Activities: There are so many activities that a teacher could do with this book. Two that I think would be really effective and fun include an art project and also a little research project. The artwork in this book is amazing. Not only are the pictures very good, but there are collage frames around many of the pictures that have signs that say "No Blacks Allowed" etc., but my favorite frame is towards the end of the book and there are faces with different noses, eyes, mouths, etc. I would have the students cut out facial features and bodies of all different races from newspapers or magazines. Then, they would be mixed up and each group would have all different features. The faces would ultimately have a variety have races represented. The point of this activity would be to show the students that just because we do not look alike, we are all apart of each other and it is necessary that we realize this. Also, another activity inspired by this book can be about the monumental figures in the Civil Rights Movement. This book focuses on four specific figures, so students could either be put into small groups and each group has a figure from the book or they could pick other figures that promoted similar causes. Each activity would promote element 3 by exhibiting how racism has effected African Americans and our lives today.
Other Information: I think this book can be extremely effective because it shows that all it took were people to fight for their beliefs to have these inequalities change, which can influence the next element showing that it is possible for change to occur.

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