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, April 25, 2011

Olivia's Birds: Saving the Gulf

Author: Olivia Bouler
Illustrator: Olivia Bouler
Grade Level: 5th Grade

This book, written and illustrated by an 11 year old girl, was made in her efforts to save the birds affected by the oil spill in 2010. The book tells interesting facts about birds, explains the dangers they can experience, their risk of extinction, and ways in which everyone can help to create a safe earth. She talks about how she wrote letters to Audubon experts voicing her concern after the Gulf oil spill. The book displays her bird artwork that she has made for all those donating to the clean-up campaign. She discusses important ways in which to get together and encourage others to make a stand for a good cause. She gives examples and steps for those attempting to make a difference. She talks about the importance of building bird feeders, recycling, and standing up for a cause.

Element 6: Taking Social Action
This book is not only a book with examples on how to take action, it IS an example of social action. 11-year old, Olivia Bouler, proved that one person can make a difference and single-handedly raised over $150,000 for the Gulf oil spill. She, a nature and bird lover, was always concerned about endangered birds, and the effect that humans are having on them. In her book she talks about the dangers of destroying habitats, over-fishing, and pollution. She also is an example of how a little concern can go a long way. After writing letters to the Audubon society and drawing for donations, she started the Save the Gulf campaign, spoke in Washington D.C. on behalf of clean energy, visited Project Puffin, and been on the radio, in magazines, and on T.V. She has been spreading her message and encouraging others to take a stand and make a difference, as she has clearly done.

This book will most likely provoke a want for change and social action in students. This book can be followed by an activity where each student is to create a poster to display around their school and community. The poster can contain elements showing the importance of having clean bird baths and bird feeders for out friends, the birds. The students can create an earth-day celebration for their school community, where they talk about the importance of fighting for safe communities and environments for all living creatures. The students can be asked to write letters to their community leaders asking for park cleanups, permission to plant trees and wildlife, and ask donations for community gardens and wildlife preservation.

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