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

Josephine's 'magination

Josephine's 'magination by Arnold Dobrin

This is a great book for teaching multi cultural education. I chose this book for a couple reasons. One thing I really liked about this book is that it doesn't hit you over the head with the multi cultural content. What I mean by this is there is no racism or injustice really in the book. Instead the author chooses to tell a story of a young Haitian girl who accompanies her mother to the market one day to sell brooms, where she meets an older man who explains to her that she can make new things out of old stuff using her imagination. The illustrations are vivid, alternating between color and black and white, and the book would be appropriate for K-3rd grade, however it is not a short book, with about half text/half pictures for every 2 page spread.

The multi-cultural content comes from the book taking place in a poor neighborhood on Haiti, a country i assume most young urban students are not familiar with. Students learn about different cultures and people and there is also a bit of self love and acceptance in regards to the character of Josephine. (she learns she can have fun and make toys even though she has no money to buy anything, accepting her situation and making the best of it) I would use this book as an opportunity to introduce Haiti and Haitians to students. Where is Haiti? What continent is it located on? What is the weather like there? Can we determine any of this from the illustrations or how the people dress? What language do they speak in Haiti? (French) Why do they speak French? (Haiti was a French colony as well as many other North African states)What's a colony? etc. you get the idea. Any number of engaging and enlightening questions could be asked. For more advanced or older students you could have them do their own research and investigations into the Haitian people, culture, and history. One must keep in mind however to prepare students with adequate research skills and strategies before assigning such an activity.

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