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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change

Title: Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change
Author: Garth Sundem

Reading Level: 5th Grade
Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing
For more information of this book and related books click here. To purchase this book click here.
Summary: This powerful book provides children with real stories about other children believed in a cause, raised awareness, and took social action. Throughout the five chapters in the book, kids from all different ages show society how they can save the environment, stand up for themselves, help others, overcome challenges, and use their talents for a greater purpose. Each chapter in the book tells related stories of how an individual child had impacted their community and actually made a change.
Element 5- Raising Awareness: In chapter 4, the book portrays an awe-inspiring representation of element five through the detailed explanation of Izidor Ruckel’s story. The author shows young readers how Izidor Ruckel, a ten year-old from Romania, survived horrible polio and abusive conditions in a Romanian orphanage for disabled children before being adopted by an American family. After coming to the United States and receiving numerous surgeries for polio, Ruckel insisted on spreading awareness about the horrible conditions of the orphanage that he was forced to spend the beginning of his life in. At the young age of fifteen, Izidor toured the US, speaking out about the orphanage conditions in various gyms and lecture halls throughout the country. Through his speaking, Izidor called attention to an otherwise ignored issue. Izidor later returned to Romania to visit the orphanage where he was kept for ten years and proposed reformations that he could help make to the orphanage. Through his voice and his new projects, Izidor provides children with an inspirational story that they would never forget.
Activity: Teachers could use these stories in their classroom library in and in their curriculum in order to provide children with positive motivation to raise awareness about injustices of their society. As a class, children can contemplate injustice in their own community and how they can call attention to these issues. Teachers can use this book as a model when planning activities for children about how to raise awareness against issues that feel passionately about. Teacher could then have children create flyers and pass them out at a local meeting place.

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