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 11, 2011

Who Was Rosa Parks?

Title: Who Was Rosa Parks
Author: Yona Zeldis McDonough
Illustrator: Stephen Marchesi
Grade Level: 3rd or 4th

For several good activities involving Rosa and social change, click here.

Summary: In this biography, author Yona Zeldis McDonough gives the reader a background on Rosa Park's life. She details what had happened to her leading up to her memorable stand against racial discrimination. McDonough explains to the reader how Rosa never felt safe as a child and how she was constantly running away and hiding from whites. McDonough then starts to reveal the courageous side of Rosa's character when detailing a scene where Rosa pushed a white boy that had purposely run into her. McDonough paints a clear picture that Rosa was one to stand up for herself even at an early age. Throughout the book there are many subsections where the author describes several key civil right activists and events that were becoming prominent and taking place while Rosa was growing up. The climax of the biography is when Rosa decided not to give up her seat on the bus. After that Rosa filed a lawsuit that Jim Crow laws were unconstitutional. In December of 1956, only 1 year after Rosa had refused to give up her seat, Blacks no longer were required to ride in the back of the bus.

Element 4: Social Movement and Social Change: This biography represents element 4 by showing how Rosa Parks stood up against what she thought was wrong. The book also gives information on other prominent civil rights leaders who were performing similar acts at the time. Overall, it shows us how we can change things that aren't right and stresses how important it is that we stand up for our rights.

Activity: One activity students could participate in could be structured like an interview. Have certain students pair up in groups of 2 where one student plays the role of Rosa Parks, while the other formulates questions to ask. The teacher should provide example questions to help get the students off on the right track. Afterwards, students who asked the questioned will report to the class and mention what they found particularly surprising or interesting about "Rosa's" comments.

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