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, September 9, 2008

Fire at the Triangle Factory

Fire at the Triangle Factory by Holly Littlefield

Fire at the Triangle Factory by Holly Littlefield

Available for Purchase at: Amazon

Summary: This book is about two 14-year-old girls, Minnie a Jewish girl and Tessa an Italian Catholic girl, seamstress coworkers in a crowded work factory on the upper floors of a building in Greenwich Village (Now the Silver building on NYU’s campus) in 1911. One day a fire breaks out in the factory, resulting in the deaths of 146 workers. The book tells the story of the two girls struggle for survival. This historic event in history changed the labor laws and safety codes for the future generations.

My Opinion: I love this story because it tells a story of child labor, religious differences, and overlooked labor laws. It is a story of tragedy that results in social change. It also is very relevant for children in New York City because it tells of specific landmarks and communities that the children live in today.

Possible Topics: You could use this book for numerous lessons and unit studies! It covers topics of labor laws and how they were neglected and obscure before the fires. It covers child labor. It discusses the importance of safety and evacuation plans. It discusses the life of immigration work and New York City. It also talks about the religious differences and family opposition among the Catholics and Jewish communities of the early 20th century.

Lessons in literacy/ social studies:
· The students can role-play and write a letter from one of the girls’ perspective to the other girls’ perspective telling about why they think their parents dislike each other.
· Write diary entries from the girls’ perspective about the daily life in the factory or the day of the fire
· Write letters to the government officials to make labor laws stricter and enforced
Lessons in math/social studies:
· The students can research and calculate how much money the workers made at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory
· The students can calculate the ratio of how many people died in the fire and how many people were working there.
Lessons in Science/social studies:
· The students can research how the fire began and what caused the fire.
· What made the fire spread so rapidly?
· Brainstorm solutions and preventions that could have been enforced to prevent the fire.

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