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.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dumpling Soup

Author: Jama Kim Rattigan
Illustrator: Lillian Hsu-Flanders
Grade Level: K-3

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Summary: Seven-year-old Marisa is an Asian American girl who lives in Hawaii.  As part of her family's New Year's Eve tradition, everyone goes over to her Grandma's house and eats dumplings at midnight.  For the first time this year, Marisa will help her Grandma, aunts and mother make dumplings for the family's New Year's Eve celebration.  Marisa carefully tries to emulate the way her aunt makes them, but is concerned that nobody will eat her funny-looking dumplings (mandoo).  Dumpling Soup celebrates the food and customs of Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Hawaiian cultures.  Marisa says that her Grandma refers to the family as "chop suey"which means "all mixed up" in pidgin.

Element 1: Self-Love and Knowledge: I believe this book is a great representation of Element 1 because it introduces children to a little girl who is clearly proud of her family tradition and cannot wait to be a part of the whole process.  Her family in Oahu comes from different cultures and they all celebrate their food, customs and languages together. 

Activities: On the author's website, she discusses many different ways that a teacher can incorporate this book into the classroom.  From the ideas that she mentions, I have a few favorites that I would select.  After reading this book to the class, I would first discuss the concept of "mixing" or "blending" as cited in the book.  I would use examples such as the mixture of races in the family and the ingredients in the soup and dumplings.  The activities that I thought would be very worthwhile are the following: 1) Making a class book and asking each child to contribute a word representing his/her ethnic origin; 2) Researching other types of New Year's celebrations and creating a mural illustrating these; and 3) Interviewing family members to find out if there are any kinds of family celebrations or special traditions and those sharing those orally or on paper.

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