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

This is the Dream

This is the Dream by Diane Shore and Jessica Alexander

Presented by Yerlina, Priya, and Liav

This book can be purchased at:
Price: $12.74

From Publishers Weekly
Ransome (Satchel Paige) creates a striking juxtaposition of closely focused paintings and collage borders incorporating powerful historical photographs. These images will make a strong impression on readers of this expository chronicle of events preceding, during and following the civil rights movement, as Ransome's artwork makes large ideas comprehensible through visual details. The singsong rhythm and "House-that-Jack-Built" meter creates a chilling contrast to what's going on between the lines: "These are the buses—a dime buys a ride,/ but the people are sorted by color inside." Ransome shows the demarcation of the bus's white and black sections, and in a border across the top creates a collage of stirring portraits. Text and artwork similarly depict segrgated lunch counters, libraries and schools. One of the most powerful spreads portrays three black children stepping into a newly integrated school ("These are the students who step through the doors/ where people of color have not walked before"), Confederate flags flying, while a photocollage on the top edge shows the fractured images of angry white bystanders, effectively emulating a mob mentality. Concluding spreads demonstrate the contrast today, with images of a multiracial array of people waiting to use the same drinking fountain and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in one voice at school. This will provide a solid springboard for adult-child discussions, especially since younger readers might need help deciphering some of the poetic narrative's references. All ages.
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  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Amistad (December 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006055519X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060555191
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces


I found THIS IS THE DREAM to be very powerful, not just through the use of the words in the verses, but through the detailed and vibrant pictures accompanying the verses. Of all, I felt the title sent an extremely strong message to me as the reader, that today, we are living in is the dream people had struggled towards. As I read each page, I felt there were strong emotions of pain, sorrow, struggle and strength being exuded through the verses and through the pictures. Although each page captured a different emotion of mine, one of the pages that really resonated with me was the portrayal of the three African American students stepping foot on a territory that was not considered theirs until recently, a school that was becoming integrated. Alongside, there were various pictures of Caucasian students, teachers, etc. angrily watching as these students were entering. This page really resonated with me because it showed change in action, it depicted strength, courage and resistance and demonstrated the results of will power.How I would use the book/activities/ curriculum:
This book would work well on several levels. It could be tied in during Black History month and/or during Poetry month. Students could write poems reflecting on their feelings after reading THIS IS THE DREAM , but rather than sharing it with the class they would have the option of keeping it for themselves. A whole unit on change can be created, and students can explore what took place in the past, the change that occurred as history progressed forward and how change is occurring today. As we mentioned in class, students should really be aware that change is constant, and change is in our hands.1. Have students listen to a portion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech. Talk about how this relates to the book. Was his dream realized? Have the students brainstorm ways that his dream could become even stronger today.
2. Civil Rights Leaders: Four civil rights leaders are pictured in the book. Have students work in groups and research how these individuals contributed to the civil rights movement. Have students look for other civil rights leaders.
3. Long Road to Equal Rights: Have students work on a time line for the civil rights movement. Give various events starting back with the constitution, abolishment of slavery, African Americans gaining the right to vote, integration of schools, etc. This will show students that equality for African Americans has been a long and challenging process.
4. Discrimination Today: Discuss the concept of discrimination. Have students list ways that people are still discriminated against today. What other groups are discriminated against?

Art- Have student use magazines, photographs and drawings to make their own collages to represent their reflections of this book.
Music-Find recordings or lyrics of these songs that were sung during the Civil Rights Movement. Have students write a brief journal about why they think the songs were important. ("Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing,"We Shall Overcome." "Oh, Freedom." "Only a Pawn in Their Game," "I'm on My Way." “How I Got Over.")

Domains of Social Justice:
Self-love and acceptance: Students learn to love and be proud of who they are and in doing so students should be encouraged to continue express themselves in a safe and positive manner. Through poetry or reflecting in their journals, asking questions, etc., students should be given the opportunity to take time and share their feelings and experiences whether it is privately or with the whole class. In THIS IS THE DREAM even though the African- Americans entered a new school which they knew they were they were not welcomed by everyone with open arms, they still maintained respect for themselves.
Respect for others: Towards the end of THIS IS THE DREAM there is an image of a group of people of various races waiting in line to use the same drinking fountain, depicting acceptance and showing the change that has occurred over the years.
Exploring issues of social justice: THIS IS THE DREAM addresses issues on racism and segregation, struggle and the power of change. It identifies the events the occurred prior to the Civil Rights Movement, during and after. More importantly, students can begin to explore the power they have to create change in the community.
Social Movements and social change: By reflecting on what has occurred, students can take a proactive approach about certain issues that might be occurring in their community (classroom, school, social community) and begin to discuss how they can create a positive change. Perhaps it would be best by beginning with something small, such as an issue that maybe occurring in the classroom (i.e. sharing). Students can learn to become aware that they are makers of change and that they have the power to change certain issues by working together and moving forwards with a positive attitude.
Related Books that could be used in addition to this could be read as an introductory lessons to Civil Rights, Rosa by Nikki Giovanni and excerpts from Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue with Today's Youth by Rosa Parks, The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan

Additional Websites:
(1) 50 Years Later: Brown v. Board of Education
Commemorate the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling with free online resources.

(2) National Rights Museum
Allows the student to interact with activities, see photographs of famous people and see exhibits about the Civil Rights movement. This site introduces students to people who have fought and dedicated their lives for freedom.

(3) Factbites/Civil Rights Act 1865

(4) The Civil Rights Movement, A Photographic History,

(5) Timeline of the Civil Rights Movement

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