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

Why Should I Save Energy?

Why Should I Save Energy? By Jen Green

Why Should I Save Energy?
By Jen Green
Illustrated by Mike Gordon
This book is part of the “WHY SHOULD I?” series, which includes books about different environmental issues and how children can help to help our environment. The books include: Why Should I Protect Nature?, Why Should I Recycle?, Why Should I Save Energy?, and Why Should I Save Water?
The book begins by a girl talking about how her family is careful about how they use energy but that they were not always careful. She describes all the ways in which her family used to use energy with no care and how it was very wasteful (including but not limited to leaving the lights on all the time and having the heat on full blast). It wasn’t until the little girl was playing with her friend at her house and they experienced a power outage that the girl realized the importance of energy. The book then goes into the many reasons why energy is precious and why we need to conserve it so we do not run out. The book dedicates a few pages to showing us what our lives would look like without power. They then discuss things that we can do every day to save energy and to make sure we never run out. At the end of the book, there are “notes for parents and teachers” which offer suggestions for reading the book with children (such as what questions to ask throughout the reading and how to engage children and ask them for their thoughts and ideas on how to save energy) and suggestions for follow-up activities (great ideas for teachers to use in a classroom after reading the book in a read aloud). There is also a list of six other books that would be good to read as supplemental readings with this text.
I think that it is very important to talk to kids about the importance of energy, what energy is, and what they can do to make a difference. Often, people think that “one person” will not make a difference in “saving our environment” but it is our goal as teachers to tell our students that as individuals, they are the first step to social action and social change. Reading a book like this in the classroom and having the students engage in activities encouraging them to go further with what they have read is a great way to show students first hand that they can cause change in their environment and make a difference.
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