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

My Name is Maria Isabel

My Name Is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ada

My Name Is Maria Isabel
By: Alma Flor Ada Website for general information and purchasing information as well.
·This chapter book is about a little girl, Maria Isabel, who has to go through the usual challenges of being a new student. Her biggest problem, however, is to be called Mary Lopez by her teacher instead of the name she was born with and is supremely proud of-Maria Isabel Salazar Sanchez. To her, this name has so much meaning because of her grandparents and feels that it is one of the most important aspects about her. Throughout the book she struggles to find the courage to stand up for the way she feels and to be understood by her teacher.
· I like this book because it highlights the Hispanic culture which allows Latino students to feel empowered but also encourages respect and acceptance of other cultures since they are focused on as well. I also like that the book revolves around the issue of valuing student’s names and cultures and that it helps students and teachers to realize that these are extremely important aspects of a person that should be respected and understood.
· Currently, I am using Maria Isabel for a book club and will use it to teach literacy while integrating social studies, math, art, and issues of social justice. Social studies ideas: studying Puerto Rican people who have made a change in society, learning about Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States. Literacy ideas:character analysis, reading comprehension strategies, learning of literary elements, persuasive writing, text to self connections, text to text connections. Math ideas:graphing the increase of Maria Isabel’s courage throughout the book. Social justice ideas: exploring their own identities (all of these students are of Hispanic culture), exploring methods of how they can be courageous, learning and exploring other cultures, learning about the importance of their names and culture, exploring and accepting other people’s holidays and traditions, teaching children conflict/resolution/communication strategies Arts ideas: creating a web of problems and how to get out of it and performing Amahl.
· Ways in which it falls in the domains of sje:
1. Children of Hispanic culture are encouraged to love and accept themselves.
2. Various cultures are represented in the book and encourage acceptance of other’s cultures, traditions, and holidays.
3. This book deals with racism and oppression.
4. The method in which Maria Isabel stands up for herself is through a courage driven, detailed essay to the teacher describing why her culture is so important and why devaluing her name and culture is like overlooking the biggest part of her. Students will see how these small social movements can easily be done within the classroom community.
5. This book doesn’t directly apply to this domain.
· This book can easily connect to the literacy curricular unit but not limited to the subjects that have been mentioned above.

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