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.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King

Title: Happy Birthday Martin Luther King
Author: Jean Marzollo
Illustrator: J. Brian Pinkney
Grade Level: K-2
Purchase this book:
Teacher Activities:
Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King focuses on the most influential moments that took place within the lifetime of Martin Luther King Jr. Although the book does not go into great detail, it does elaborate on the most significant accomplishments that he obtained during his lifetime. The simplified wording and elaborate illustrations within story allow students to fully understand Martin Luther King's accomplishments and carry out the message of peace and brotherhood among all people.
Social Movements and Socail Change:
Social justice element #4 focuses of the way that people stand together to address and defeat social injustices such as, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, religious intolerance, ect. Within Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, students learn about the way Martin Luther King Jr. influenced the people of the United States by speaking out against racial segregation. The book explains the laws that Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers changed such as, seating on public transportation, the sharing of restaurants and drinking fountains among both races, ending segregation in public schools, ect. These examples clearly represent social justice element #4 and portray a sense of teamwork, dedication and determination to accomplish a common goal.
Martin Luther King Jr. In the Classroom:
There are a number of great activities that teachers can use in the classroom to coincide with this book and the topic of Martin Luther King Jr. Just as Martin Luther King emphasized the beauty of diversity, so does the "Seed Project." Within this project, a variety of flower seeds are passed out to each student. The seeds are of different colors, shapes and sizes, to represent the different individuals within society. The students then plant the seeds within their individual egg cartons. As the flowers begin to sprout, they are then transported into a small garden on school grounds. Once the flowers grow, the students can then observe their beautiful diverse garden creation. Teachers can then address their students with follow-up questions regarding the topic of diversity in order to clarify the deeper meaning of the "Seed Project."

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