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

Pink and Say

Pink and Say

Title: Pink and Say
Author: Patricia Polacco

This book is about true story that has been passed down from generation to generation. It is a story about two Union soldiers during the Civil War. One of the soldiers was a poor white boy named Say, who was found wounded by Pink, the black soldier. Pink brought Say back to his home where his family used to be enslaved. Pink’s mom, Moe Moe Bay, takes care of Say and nurses him back to health. During this time Pink and Say become friends, bonding over their experiences and struggles of both life and war. Later on, Pink shares with Say how he is worried that they are endangering Moe Moe Bay by being there. So they plan to leave and return to the war and the Union army. However, the day they are set to leave, marauders come by. Moe Moe Bay sends the two boys down into the root cellar to hide. The boys hide for a long time and finally come out to discover Moe Moe Bay shot to death. Upon leaving, they bump into soldiers from the Confederate army and are taken as prisoners to the prison camp in Andersonville. This story of history and camaraderie ends with a description of what happened to the two soldiers.

Uses For Book
What’s really great about this book is that you can approach it at many different angles. The book takes place during the Civil War. This is a great way to give students a taste of what the conflict and life was like at that time. The book talks a lot about racism and the conflict around that, but it also talks about how peace between two different people is also possible. Teachers can take this major themes and concepts and use them as a backdrop for many activities and lessons. From discussion groups to research projects. Overall, this seems like a good book to use as part of a larger curriculum.

Social Justice Education Domains
1. Self-Love and Acceptance:
Say demonstrate self-love and acceptance. One night while Say was staying with Moe Moe Bay, he blurts and explains his fear of returning to the Union army. It turns out that he actually ran away and wasn’t just wounded at battle. Moe Moe Bay encourages Say and assures him that it’s okay to be afraid. She shared and comforted him and helped him to accept his fear. Say realizes that being brave doesn’t mean you can’t be scared.
2. Respect for Others:
This story is all about respecting others. Despite the different colors of their skin, despite their different experiences, despite the war – Pink and Say discover a friendship that was often rare at that time. They learned to respect and accept each other’s differences. I’m not even sure if that was even ever an issue. It’s such a beautiful story of love and respect!!
3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice:
This book definitely brings up the concept of racism a lot since it takes place during the Civil War. You can a good sense of what the war was like and how even white people fighting with North were not respected. Both Moe Moe Bay and Pink were also killed due to the conflict of this war. Is this fair? These are the kind of things that come out of this book.
4. Social Movements and Social Change:
The Civil War was a huge movement that really jumpstarted this fight for equality. Of course the war was focused more on the concept of slavery, but it still did set the stage for other social movements like the civil rights movement. During this time in history a lot of changes occurred.

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