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

If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America

Title: If You Lived When There was Slavery in America
Author: Anne Kamma
Illustrator: Pamela Johnson
Reading Level: 3rd-5th Grade
Publisher: Scholastitc

Buy it here!

Click here for a sample lesson plan that used this book!

Click here for other ideas on using this book in a classroom!

 If You Lived When There was Slavery in America is an informative book about what it was like for slaves who lived in the United States between the 1780s-1860s.  It is not a story book, but it offers a lot of information and answers a lot of questions students might have about slavery and what went on during those years.  Some of the questions this book addresses are: where did slaves come from? Where did they live?  What kind of work did they do? Did they receive education?  The book includes information about how slave owners treated slaves, how people became slaves, and why slavery started in America.  It is written in a way that is easy for students to comprehend without being greusome about the way slaves were treated. It describes many of the hardships that slaves faced on a daily basis and how they were able to overcome some of these struggles.

Element 3-Exploring Issues of Social Injustice:
 This book would be a good way to address the history of racial inequality.  After learning about self love and respect for others through elements 1 & 2, students can use this book as a tool to explore the issue of racism and how it became an issue in our country.  Unlike traditional history books that usually mention the issue of slavery but mostly focus on the historical events surrounding it, this book really explains what it was like in the daily life of a slave. This book gives a deeper explaination of how slaves were treated and the things they suffered through, which can give students an understanding of how awful of an issue slavery really was.  This can really help reinforce the new respect for others students have after learning about elements 1 and 2.  As the book states,  "just as it is important to understand all the good things that have happened in America, it is important to understand when something bad,like slavery happens. That way we can help make our future better than our past." (pg 7)

Follow-up Activity:
As a follow up activity to give students a deeper understanding of the history of racial inequality,  students can create a journal entry from the perspective of a slave.  They could describe the activities of their day,  the people they encounter, and even their feelings about why slavery should be abolished.  The next day, they can create a journal entry from the perspective of an abolitionist trying to end slavery.  By taking on these two perspectives, students can gain an understanding of why it was so hard to be a slave and why bringing it to an end was so important. 

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