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
Kids At Work
Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor
Especially recommended for children ages 8-12, grades 4, 5 and 6.
Your heart will be broken by this exceptional book’s photographs of children at backbreaking, often life-threatening work, and the accompanying commentary by author Russell Freedman. Photographer Lewis Hine – who himself died in poverty in 1940 – did as much, and perhaps more, than any social critic in the early part of the 20th century to expose the abuse of children, as young as three and four.
By his force of will, often by posing as a fire inspector, insurance salesman, or photographer interested only in the setting, not the workers, Hine made his way into coal mines and textile mills, farm fields and canning factories. He photographed the youngest of children doing the most tedious, physical, often incredibly dangerous work, from barefoot boys and girls clambering over looms in mind-numbing noise and heat.
Element 3: Exploring Issues of Social Injustice:
I want to say it’s an inspiring book, and in a way it is. It got me thinking about what one person can do, armed with strength of character and the courage of conviction. Lewis Hine courage to expose these injustices is the inspiration.
This is not a feel-good inspirational story, though. Its truth is painful, and although the forms may have changed, the things in humanity that permitted the captains of industry to exploit and sacrifice children are still all too real. I recommend this book highly, but not because it will make anyone feel good. I recommend it because of its searing truth, and because we owe it to these children, now long gone, to let our eyes dwell on their faces and their plight.
In class Creative Writing Assignment:
For an independent creative writing assignment, ask students to create a diary entry for a person in one of the photographs. Direct students to describe in detail the person's workday and explain his or her reasons for working and feelings about the job.