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.
Summary: Barbara Lewis lays out a multitude of service ideas in her updated 2nd addition of The Kid's Guide to Service Projects. From topics like crime fighting and politics to homelessness and special needs, Lewis delivers a jam-packed resource complete with contact information and first-to-last steps in almost any social justice project. Each chapter highlights various angles of attack on issues many children have conviction about. The "More Ideas" section at the end of each chapter, hones in on some less obvious yet very relevant aspects of the more typical social justice themes. Every chapter provides phone numbers, addresses and web sites for the many organizations associated with these topics. In closing, Lewis provides a "Service Project How-To" chapter, detailing how to create a flyer, petition, press release, proclamation, proposal, PSA, resolution and survey! There are also step-by-step instructions on how to: initiate an ordinance or law, support or oppose a law, lobby, or start a statewide fund or fundraiser.
Element 6: Any teacher with conviction about taking social action should keep this book in his/her arsenal of resources. Not only will it help the students to identify issues they feel passionate about but it will also make them more self-sufficient in their research and follow-up. The simple structure of this book will easily enable them to learn the skills of creating change first-hand. It is the perfect scaffolding to get a class service project off the ground.
Activity: There is no limit to what your class can accomplish with the help of this book! Try to identify issues that are meaningful to your specific students. After reflecting on on how our everyday choices effect others in society, offer this book to your students as a foundation for inspiration. In no time, they will be inspired to take on issues with passionate civic engagement! Click here for great ideas on a variety of specific lesson plans!