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

Goin' Someplace Special

Goin' Someplace Special

Title: Goin' Someplace Special
Author: Patricia C. McKissack, Jerry Pinkney
Buy It:

This book follows the journey of an African American girl named 'Tricia Ann (the work is somewhat autobiographical of the first author) as she navigates her way through a town that follows the Jim Crow laws. She deals with "Whites only" benches, sitting at the back of the bus, getting kicked out of a building, while trying to keep her sense of pride. Though there are times when she feels like giving up, she learns that her value doesn't come from the way other people treat her, but from her courage and determination. At the end she finds her own little utopia - a public library where "All Are Welcome."
This book is a valuable resource for the classroom because it shows how a child handled the social injustices of her day. It's a great example of Stage 1 of social justice education, where students establish a sense of self, and of Stage 2. 'Tricia Ann learns to be proud of who she is as a person even when others only judge her by the color of her skin. Though this book doesn't show an active fight against the Jim Crow laws, such as a protest, it shows how real people fought back in quiet ways as they never let white people's treatment of them rob them of their sense of dignity. I like this book because it doesn't try to make any statements about the way black people responded in general, it tells a personal narrative about the way one person handled a situation. Students can learn from this book that there are different ways to handle injustices as well as different kinds of strength. However, this book can also serve as a springboard into discussions about racism that is still present today, and more active roles they can take in addressing this injustice.
Naturally, this book could be used in a social studies unit that addresses racism or post-Civil War history, but it could also be used in other contexts. Because the story takes place as 'Tricia Ann moves from her home to the public library, students can study mapping as they plot her journey. This mapping can also form a sequencing activity as students label what happened to her at each point. Students can also study motivation as they look at why 'Tricia Ann behaved the way she did. In addition, a teacher can use this book to teach about fractions, decimals, and percents as students study what part of the whole bus was portioned off for African Americans, the percent of buildings in a town that African Americans could enter, etc.
I highly recommend this inspirational book.

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