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 18, 2010

The Rock and the River

Title: The Rock and the River Ages 9-14

Author: Kelka Magoon

The Rock and the River depicts how a young fourteen year old African-American boy struggles with being the son of a known civil rights activist. Especially when his older brother Stick, begins to show interest in the Black Panthers, a group that seems to be against everything his father has taught him.

Sam has believed for so long that you can effect change through non-violent acts, but his beliefs become questionable as he witnesses his family and friends suffer at the hands of racism in their own community. As a result Sam begins to explore the ideas and beliefs of the Black Panther organization with his brother, but soon is put in a position that he never would have imagined himself to be in.

But its up to him to look deep within himself, and make the decision only he can make. He no longer can follow his father or brothers footsteps, he has to create his own path.

Although this is a fictional story, it depicts the real life events and challenges that many teens faced during the civil tights movement in 1968. This book stays true to the viewpoint of a teenager. It isn't often that a child's point of view is taken when retelling history and the struggles that one may endure, this book does that for its readers. It makes their presence during life situations realistic.

Connection to Element 3: This book helps gives students a view from the participators point of view during the civil rights movement, rather than the civil right leaders point of view. It encourages students to think about how society today may challenge their beliefs today, and consider how they would, if they could, attempt to evoke change.

Teacher Resource: Kelka Magoon visits schools to encourage and incorporate guided discussion with students about themes explored in The Rock and the River, Readers' Theatre, and Q&A about Kekla's process for researching and writing the novel. These discussions can be tailored to suit small groups, classroom groups and large audiences. If you or your school is interested in having Kelka come visit, contact her at:

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