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, February 28, 2011

White Socks Only by Evelyn Coleman


Element 3: Social Injustice


Author: Evelyn Coleman

Illustrator: Tyrone Geter

Grade Level: Grades 2-4


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Summary: The book, White Socks Only, is a story told from a grandmother to her granddaughter about when there were things she could not do or places she could not go to because of the color of her skin. As a younger child, the little girl went off to town to see if she could fry an egg on the sidewalk. On her way back home after successfully frying the egg, she stopped for a drink of water on the hot summer day. Reading a sign that said “Whites Only,” she proceeded to take off her leather shoes and drink with her white socks on. Interpreting that the sign pertained to the color of her socks and not skin, she was astonished when an older white man pushed her off and began to scold her. Seeing the injustice in the angry man, an elderly black man known as the “chicken man” came to her defense when he went up to water fountain, took off his socks, and proceeded to also drink from the fountain in front of the angry white man. The actions of the brave girl and the “chicken man” helped remove the “whites only” sign from the water fountain.

Element 3 Issues of Social Injustice: White Socks Only is a great way to open up and introduce the injustice of racism to a child. Our country has had a history of racism and this book is just a small taste of what life used to be like for people of color growing up in the south.

Activity: The activity I would have my class do after reading this story is to write down different ways to compliment others in the class on cardboard paper socks. It would be a great way to have the students compliment each other, build friendships and would be a fun art project to hang up in the classroom while promoting diversity.

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