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 11, 2013

Salt in His Shoes

Salt in His Shoes:
Michael Jordan In Pursuit of a Dream

Written by:       Deloris Jordan
                    Roslyn M. Jordan
Illustrated by:  Kadir Nelson

Grade Level:    P - 4

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Click here for additional teacher resources. 


This is a story about Michael Jordan as a boy.  At the neighborhood park where many boys much taller than him play basketball, Michael hopes that he gets a chance to play.  Back then, on the court, Michael felt he was not good enough and could not deliver a winning shot.  If only he were taller, he would be a better player.  Michael asks his mom how he can grow taller.  At a loss for words, his mother suggests that putting salt in his shoes, together with patience and prayer, would do the trick.  While waiting for it to take effect, Michael diligently practices basketball at home, avoiding the park until he grew taller.  However, after several months of waiting, Michael realizes he has not grown an inch and becomes disappointed.  He tells his dad that he could be a great player and help his team win if only he were taller.  His father helps him realize that he already is a great player and a winner.  It is his hard work, determination, and propensity to give his best that make him a winner.  Finally believing in himself and finding confidence as a player, he returns to the court.  All his hard work pays off.  In the last few seconds of a very close game, he spins and unleashes a phenomenal shot against a much taller opponent that propels his team to victory.

Element 1:  Self-love and Knowledge

The name Michael Jordan is synonymous to having “wings on his feet” and delivering shots from impossible angles.  However, there was a time, as a child, when Michael Jordan was bothered by self-doubt.  He falls into the trap of attributing his failure in the court to a factor beyond his control—his height.  He equates greatness as a basketball player to this specific attribute, of which, he lacks of.  As he patiently waits to grow taller, not giving up on his dream amidst the challenges, Michael works hard at improving his ability to play ball.  It is only when he deconstructs this wrong notion, and instead learns to appreciate his skills as a product of hard work, determination, and perseverance does he discover himself and find confidence in his abilities.  Truly knowing and accepting one’s self can change one’s attitude and outlook.  Oftentimes, having the right attitude is already half the battle won.

Follow-up Activity:

Have the student write either of the following:  1) A journal entry on what it means to them or how it impacted them, knowing that in his youth, Michael Jordan also had to struggle with issues many boys and girls face: self-doubt, exclusion, failure, hard work, practice, patience, etc.; 2) An essay of what they dream to be one day or what they wish to achieve in the near future, and what steps or things they need to do in order to accomplish their goal.

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