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, April 8, 2013

Element 5: Meadowlands, A Wetlands Survival Story

  • Title: Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story
  • Author & Illustrator: Thomas F. Yezerski
  • Purchase the book here
  • Find more information about the book and author here
  • Grade level K-3, Ages 5-8.
  • Element Five: Raising Awareness
  • Summary: The book tells the story of New Jersey's Meadowlands and how it has changed through out the years. The story begins hundreds of years ago when the Meadowlands was 20,00 acres of marshes and was the home to many plants, animals, and the Lenni Lanape. Then in 1609, Dutch ships sailed into the Meadowlands and began to put up their farmhouses. Through out the 1900s, loggers cut down the Meadowlands trees and wood roads were laid down to get to New-York bound ferries.  The area began to drastically change and eventually the Lenape were either forced to move away or had died from a disease brought by the Europeans. By the mid-twentieth century the Meadowlands was full of highways, railways, runways and factories. Unfortunately, the Meadowlands became a giant wasteland from endless amounts of sewage, chemicals, garbage, and smoke from the factories. By the 1960s, the Meadowlands was just 11,000 acres of wetlands. Luckily in 1969, the government stopped the chemical dumping and closed the landfills. The area began to look better and people started to move into neighborhood houses. Then came the big stores, giant stadiums, and more houses and apartments.  By 1985, there were less than 7,000 acres of wetlands left in the Meadowlands. As the story progresses more fish, birds, insects and other animals begin to thrive in the Meadowlands again after the chemical dumping has stopped. Karin, a young girl, went on a field trip to a salt marsh. She caught three mummichogs and ten grass shrimps. She also learned how the life in a salt marsh supports the world's fish, birds, and even humans. Karin also was inspired to learn how to take care of the wetlands herself. She decided to take action and recycle more and use less of everything so that less waste is dumped into the wetlands.  Karin spread her new knowledge and got  her family and friends to start conserving energy to create less air pollution.  Karin is not the only one trying to help the Meadowlands. The story ends on a positive note and tells the reader how activists, volunteers, the government, and businesses all work together to help restore the wetlands. In July 2007, for the first time in fifty years an osprey was born in the Meadowlands. This proves to Karin and all of the other's raising awareness that the Meadowlands is still recovering but it is improving. Most importantly, children like Karin are inspiring people in urban wetlands to continue to treat the fragile area with care.
  • Element 5: Raising Awareness. Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story relates to element five because the store itself is raising awareness to the reader about the pollution of New Jersey's wetlands. The book educates the reader about the history of the Meadowlands and how raising awareness has helped it recover. Also, Karin, shows the reader how someone even as young as herself can help and truly make a difference. Students will be able to relate to Karin and will see how they too could raise awareness for something they feel passionate about. Also, I think it is great that the book is all about the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Considering it is in New Jersey I think it would grab students' attention because it is so close to home.
  • Activity: After a read-aloud of the book I would have my students create a poster to raise awareness for anything that they would like to share with their classmates. It could be about the rain forest, fresh water awareness, or even the Meadowlands. Once the posters are completed the students will explain to their classmates how they can do their own part and help.  This way each student will have the opportunity to share their poster and spread their knowledge onto others so that they are aware of the issues too. Then the posters will be hung up around the hallways and will help raise awareness to all students.

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