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, February 19, 2013

Grandma's Gift

Title: Grandma's Gift
Author and Illustrator: Eric Velasquez

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For more information on Eric Velasquez and his books click here!

Grade level: Kindergarten to 3rd

Summary:  Grandma's Gift is an autobiographical story about when the author/illustrator was a young boy and would stay with his grandmother for breaks during school because his parents were working.  This book is about Christmas traditions he shared with his grandmother and a school assignment that took them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  Throughout the story Velasquez becomes more in tough with his Puerto Rican heritage and finds that his grandmother, although uncomfortable at first in the museum, was able to teach him about one of the paintings, which was his first introduction to painting and illustrating.

Element 2: This book explores Velasquez's Puerto Rican heritage through his experiences with his grandmother.  He grows to appreciate his culture and see's how it appears in his grandmother's community of El Barrio.  Velasquez shares his traditions in a way that students can relate to and imitate for their own cultures.  He briefly touches on how his grandmother felt out of place on the Upper East Side when she left El Barrio, but then explained how she was able to find her culture in the museum and felt proud of her origins.

Activity: A way to integrate this book into the classroom through Social Justice Element 2 would be to ask students to share traditional foods from their cultures and families.  Students could create a classroom cultural food book in which students share foods from their families and cultures.  Have the students list the ingredients, a how to on how it is prepared, and when and why they eat it.  Not only would this promote diversity int he classroom, it would also demonstrate the similarities in cultures because of how food brings people together.  And an added bonus would be trying all of the different recipes in class. YUM!

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