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

Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen

Author:  DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan

Illustrator:  DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan

Grade Level:  K-3 

Buy it here! 

A young boy living in an urban neighborhood has a close relationship with his Uncle Willie who works at a local soup kitchen in his spare time.  Becoming increasingly inquisitive about what he does there and what a soup kitchen is, he goes to work with Uncle Willie one day.  While there, Uncle Willie and the other employees help to educate the boy on homelessness and poverty.  The boy leaves the soup kitchen with a new perspective on the homeless he sees around his community, and happy that he could lend a helping hand.

Element 3-Exploring issues of Social Injustice:
In this book, the boy has the opportunity to gain some understanding of what it's like to be homeless and hungry.  In the beginning of the book, he was standoffish around the homeless in his community.  After his experience working at the soup kitchen, he became to understand them better, and their disposition in his community.  Also, he learns that homelessness is something that can happen to anyone through his conversation with George and other workers at the soup kitchen.  It's a great book to teach about what it means to be homeless, and shows children that homeless people aren't so different from us.

Classroom Activity:
After a read-aloud of the book, conduct a "think-pair-share" with the question prompt "Think of a time when you saw a homeless person on the street either in your community or another community.  What was your initial thought upon seeing this person, and how might that opinion be different after hearing about the boy's experience at the soup kitchen?"  

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