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.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen

Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen
Written and Illustrated by: DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
Age group:4-8 years old (K-2)
ISBN: 0688152856
SJE: Element 5 - Raising Awareness

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A little boy becomes interested in the people who live on the streets of New York City as he takes a stroll through them. Fortunately for him, his Uncle Willie volunteers at a local soup kitchen, where he can get to know more about the homeless. Uncle Willie helps his nephew learn about the issues of hunger and homelessness as they work together at the soup kitchen. The little boy works alongside of other volunteers, preparing and serving food, learning of the good deeds they do daily for the homeless. He experiences that rewarding feeling that the volunteers speak of after giving a helping hand that day at the soup kitchen! This book includes all aspects of service learning, from the view of the volunteers to those that they are helping.

Element 5- Raising Awareness:
This book allows students to learn of two national issues- Hunger and Homelessness. They will become advocates of these issues as they read about how volunteers help those who are in need of food. Students will understand that they can partake in service learning, just as the little boy in the book did! This book does a great job at raising awareness with vivid pictures of a soup kitchen and dialogue between those attending. Since it builds background knowledge of these issues, it opens up a great opportunity for students to take action through a project to stop Homelessness and Hunger. This is a great way to build a connection with your local community and the school!

Activity/Integration in the Classroom:
It would be great to introduce this book during the month of November, being as though it is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. Students will most likely have many questions about Hunger and Homelessness, therefore, a group discussion would be a great tool to use for after reading. An activity to wrap-up this lesson would be to have students trace their hands. After doing so, they will write five ways they could give help for those facing these issues in each of the five fingers. Have them color them in order to add some creativity! Make sure to hang them around the hallways or classroom to raise awareness of these issues to others around the school.

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