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, October 14, 2013

Addy's Surprise: A Christmas Story

Author: Connie Porter
 Illustrator: Dahl Taylor and Melodye Rosales
 Reading Level: Ages 8+
Grade: 3-6
 Publisher: Pleasant Company Publications

Purchase Addy's Surprise: A Christmas Story Here Now!

If you really enjoyed this book, click here to view more stories about Addy from the book series and also find more historical characters to add to your book collection from American Girl Publishing!

Click here to learn more about the author of Addy's Surprise: A Christmas Story.

Addy's Surprise: A Christmas Story is the third in a series of children's fictional historical character books. It tells the story of a young girl named Addy, who was growing up during America's Civil War in 1864. She and her family were slaves who got separated and sold to different plantation owners. Her biggest wish was that her family could be reunited for Christmas. During the holiday season, Addy and her mother were very generous even though they barely had enough themselves. They would go out to the docks and help the freed slaves that were coming intoPhiladelphia. Addy saw how hard her mother was working and how kind she was; she wanted to get her something nice for Christmas, but she had no money. Just when Addy and her mother was getting ready to celebrate a humble Christmas at church, she got a wonderful surprise.

Element #3- Exploring Elements of Social Injustice:
This book helps to show the social injustice experienced by black families during the Civil War. Christmas was a difficult time for them. Addy's story shows how some families that were separated by slavery were never able to find their relatives. There was not much at the dinner table and gifts had to be homemade or cheap. There were families who still tried to make Christmas special, like Addy's mom, but the prices were high during the war and many of the mothers were alone and could not afford it. At the back of the book, there is a looking back section which gives an historical viewpoint on Christmas in 1864 for black families. Students can learn about what children did back then and what their lives were like.The book touches on important topics in African American history like the Emancipation Proclamation, Kwanzaa, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the importance of learning how to read, and the Freedmen's Society. These are all important topics that can be expanded in follow-up lessons to help students understand or relate more to Addy.

Follow-Up Activity:
An overall theme that can be taught from the book is that slaves were strong, faithful, and determined workers who overcame all the obstacles they encountered on the way to achieving freedom; christmas was one of them! To reinforce this theme I would introduce the students to some of the men and women that worked hard to help African Americans gain civil rights. I would allow students to use online resources to research topics such as the Civil Rights Movement, Freedom Riders, the Emancipation Proclamation, Jim Crow laws, etc. Students would chose from the list of topics something they would be interested in learning more about, they would then type up a written report and share what they learned with the class in a class discussion. We would also revisit the book, Addy's Surprise: A Christmas Story, to connect Addy's life and the the history they learned in a comparison chart.

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