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

Just For Now: Kids and the People of the Court

Just For Now: Kids and the People of the Court

See full size imageJust for Now by Kimberly Morris

(sorry the picture is so small, I couldn't get a bigger one!)

Summary: Just for Now is a book about a brother and sister who get taken to a foster home and are told that it's "just for now." We learn about the confusion, fear, lonliness, and hope that accomponies foster children when they leave home and enter a foster home. At first, the brother and sister are very angry at their caseworker for taking them away from their home and their mom, but then they begin to feel safe in their new, temporary home at the Lin's. They love having lots of brothers and sisters and they secretly adopt a puppy! There were a few scheduled supervised meetings with their mom, but she either never showed up or showed up drunk and unhappy. Eventually, the children get a child advocate whom adores them and whom they adore as well. They can trust this woman and know that she will be on their side for good. At the end, the brother and sister end up getting to see their mom and this time she is happy and getting better. She has been seeing a doctor about her drug problem and wants to learn how to become a better mother. What's nice about this book is that there are definitions of all of the "big words" used (child advocate, judge, hearing, etc.) so that students can better understand these confusing and scary words. 

Reflection: I liked this book. I think it would be a nice resource to have to help students who are in/have been in foster care better understand their situations. However, there is a "happy ending" which doesn't happen all the time for foster children. They don't always get to be reunited with their mother or father, so I wouldn't want this book to make students feel bad if that is not what happened for them. I does mention many different issues that cause children to enter foster care, though, which is good because it addresses a wide variety of situations. 

How I would use it: I would like to have this book in my classroom as a reference tool for students who are in foster care or students who are curious about it. It's very informative and makes difficult jargon easy to understand for kids. I think it's important to have books in the classroom that range from a variety of different lifestyles that our students may lead, and this book certainly does that. I would also use this book as a launch for a social action project (maybe being pen pals with foster children or meeting with foster children once a week as a sort of "buddy" project). 

Domains of Social Justice:
Self-Love: This book addresses this domain because it gives foster children a chance to learn more about their situations and see the positive things that can come from it. 
Respect for Others: This book addresses this domain because it informs other students what being in a foster care situation is like and all the struggles that come with it. 
Exploring Issues of Social Justice: This book addresses this domain because it explores issues of child abuse/neglect and drug abuse.
Social Movements and Social Change: This book addresses this domain on a smaller, more personal level. Students get to see what kinds of things are involved in fighting for childrens' rights.

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