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.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Henry's Freedom Box

Author: Ellen Levine

Illustrator: Kadir Nelson

Grade Level: 3-5

            This is a true story about a boy born into slavery named, Henry Brown. As a child, Henry was able to live with his family on his master’s plantation. Until his master became sick and sold Henry to his son. Henry was separated from his family and lived in constant fear of beatings. When walking down the street, Henry met Nancy, a slave who worked for a family near by, and they fell in love. Nancy and Henry had three children and Henry was happy. Then, Nancy and the children were sold. Henry never saw his family again. He was sad, lonely, and out of hope. Until one day, when Henry devised a plan to mail himself to freedom, in Philadelphia. After 27 long hours, Henry was finally free.

Element Three- Exploring Issues of Social Injustice:
            This book allows students to have a peak into the horrific lives of those subjected to slavery. From the pain of being separated from one’s family to beatings and laws such as “no singing in the street” or needing permission to be married, students are able to gain a sense of concrete events that took place in America. Terms such as “owner”, “master”, and “freedom” are put into context so that children can understand how little right people in slavery had.

Classroom Activity:
            This book provides an immense amount of examples on how limited those in slavery were. As a follow up activity, children could write a journal entry or create a drawing. The entry or drawing will aim to have children reflect on their own lives—and compare their lives to the lives of children in slavery. Students can either write or draw things they can do that those in slavery were prohibited to do. 

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