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, September 8, 2008

Home of the Brave

In this work Allen Say explores his own past. He explores the issue of Japanese Internment Camps in the US during World War II. The book has a dream-like feel to it, and blurs the line between reality and imagination. The illustrations are haunting and the story line leaves room for interpretation. 

This work does not stand alone. It can not be read once, teach a lesson, and be forgotten. Instead it must be integrated into a unit of study. It requires students to read beyond what it written. It also requires teachers to teach beyond what is written. The criticism for the book is that it does no go into depth about what internment camps were like, or why they existed. However, this is an opportunity for the teacher to support the work with additional research and resources. This issue was not found abroad, but instead was found in the US. This could open the eyes of students, and pull them closer to the issue. 

1. Students could investigate their own heritage and the journeys of their ancestors through using this work as an inspiration.
2. Students could put themselves in the place of the main character in the story and write about how the would react to the situation.
3. Students could research internment camps during WWII in the US. They could also research similar situations to this around the world during different time periods.

Curricular Units: 
This work would fit specifically into a unit on US History and World War II. However it could also fit into other topics of imprisoned people during times of conflict.

Social Justice Education:
The title of this work does not praise the US for being the “Home of the Brave” but instead calls the reader to question if the US is the “Home of the Brave” and if so, who are the brave ones. Internment camps are a part of US history that is often skipped over or breezed through. This book calls necessary attention to this issue. As a result, I feel as if this fits into the third tier of social justice education, which is exploring issues of social justice. 


* For Valerie Bracco *

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