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 Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me

My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me ~ Maya Angelo

Thandi, which translates as Hope, is a young Ndebele girl of South Africa. This strong and vibrant girl takes us through her village and her life. She presents readers with all that is important and good in her eyes. In addition to being a treasure of a book in terms of culture, there is also a visual vibrancy that does complete justice to Maya Angelo's story.

Reflections: I love this book because it really stands out as a introductary book to South African life. The visual pleasure one derives from it is a motivator on its own and the written words of Maya Angelo really top off its attractiveness. I really feel as though this book has the potential to intrigue every child in a classroom. Instead of values and struggles and the like being presented fact by fact, it is presented through the story of a young girl, someone who is relatable to students. Not only is it very accessible and knowledgeable, but it also allows for a discussion of "what is culture?" and "what is respect?" Which are a nice lead into ideas of social justice and social change.

Elements of Social Justice: 1) Self-love and Acceptance: Seeing the importance and pride Thandi has for her culture, students will learn to name and understand their own values within their culture. 2) Respect for Others: Students will learn that different cultures value different things, although there is room for similarities. 3) Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students will begin to explore their classmates' and teachers' cultures as well as others in the school community through the lens of values just as in the story. 4) Social Movements and Social Change: Students will learn about how they can take part in social change around their community and perhaps an African community. 5) Taking Social Change: Students will decide how they would like to take part in social change in either their community or an African community.

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