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 1, 2013
Illustrator: Dr. Seuss
Grade Level: K-2nd
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The Lorax tells the story of the Once-ler and, through his own narration, his interaction with the Lorax. The Once-ler, in an effort to start and then expand his business, chops down Truffula trees. The Lorax, who speaks for the trees, does not like the path the Once-ler is headed down, and so tells him to stop ruining the natural resources around him. The Once-ler, ignoring the Lorax's interventions, expands his business to the point of destroying all of the resources around him, forcing animals from their natural habitats and polluting all, including the air and water. The Lorax continually advocates for those without a voice but, it is with the destruction of the last Truffula tree, that the Lorax leaves, having nothing left to advocate for. Despite the now uninhabitable land, the Once-ler has hope that the Lorax will return because of the motivation of one young child to learn and change that which is around him. He gives that child the last Truffula seed to plant and care for, which will, in turn, create more Truffula trees and re-establish the natural beauty that once was.
The Lorax so bluntly proves to belong in Element 4's category because it advocates and encourages environmental movement and protection. Being that we live in a time of ever-increasing awareness regarding global warming issues, the benefits of this book show that while addressing all of the aspects of environmental change may not be possible for young students, they CAN do something to better their environment. Children and adults alike can simply maintain nature around them in an effort to encourage respect and awareness for the environment. The Lorax sheds light on attainable goals for young readers in an effort to create an environmental movement within their classrooms. After reading this book, young readers receive the message that change, they wish to see, is dependent on their actions.
One, wonderful, activity that can be utilized for young students is leading them in an Earth slogan campaign. Students can come up with catchy slogans circling the topic of the environment and the need for protecting our natural resources. After students have finished their work the slogans can be put up for a vote. The winning slogan will be blown up into a large poster-sized image; students will then be free to decorate and sign the class slogan before it is laminated and hung for all to see!