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


Isla by Arthur Dorros

Isla, by Arthur Dorros

Isla is a story of a young girl who loves to hear stories of "la isla" or the island Puerto Rico where her grandmother grew up. Through her abuela's stories, she travels to Puerto Rico and sees the place her family came from. She goes to the house where her mother and uncle grew up and sees photographs and paintings by her grandmother. They also see the rain forest and the harbor among other places. The girl and her abuela return to New York and plan to take another visit through storytelling soon. The book uses some Spanish words and phrases and introduces new vocabulary throughout the story. The illustrations are colorful and fun, making this book great for a read aloud.

How I would use this book: 
I feel this book is most appropriate for students in grades K-2. In these grades, students focus is on themselves, their families, and their communities, so this book could be a read aloud in conjunction with an activity in which students explore their own ancestry and heritage. If possible, I would ask parents or grandparents who are immigrants to come in and speak about their experience so we could "travel" to those places like the girl and abuela did.

This book could also be used to teach Spanish, and to teach appreciation for other languages. If there are native Spanish speakers in the classroom, seeing their home language in print and read aloud during school will validate them and make them feel that their language and culture is valued.

Domains of Social Justice:

1. Self-Love and Acceptance: Children learn about their own culture: This book will help students who identify with Puerto Rico learn about their culture, but will also inspire activities where all students in the classroom can explore their cultural identity.

2. Respect for Others: Strengthens inter-cultural competence: Students who do not identify with Puerto Rican culture will have a chance to learn about it through this book. Also students can share with each other their various backgrounds and educate each other, building respect and appreciation for diversity.

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