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
Illustrator: Dom Lee
Reading Level: Grades 3 & Up
In the Classroom
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Summary: Baseball Saved Us brings to life the harrowing experiences that Japanese Americans endured post Pearl Harbor. Shorty's world is turned upside down when his family and him are forced to move into an internment camp in the middle of the desert. The only salvation is a baseball field built by Shorty's father and other members of the camp. In the moments that Shorty is on the diamond, he forgets about the harsh conditions he is forced to live in. Once released, Shorty turns back to baseball to help him face the continued ill will and injustice toward his community.
Element 3: Baseball Saved Us tackles the social injustice that Japanese Americans faced during World War II. Shorty and his family were labeled as a threat to homeland security by the United States, the country they called home, based on their nationality alone. They were sent to internment camps with deplorable conditions and treated as war criminal for no legitimate reason at all. Even after being allowed to leave the camp, citizens like Shorty were still isolated, taunted, and blamed for the attacks on Pearl Harbor. The United States eventually deemed the internment camps as a wrong doing and offered some retribution to the detainees. However, the impact that this mindset had on the lives of Japanese Americans can never be reversed or altered.
Application: In the classroom, Baseball Saved Us can act as a starting point to explore other periods in history where governments detained and mistreated groups of people based on their cultural identity. Students could compare and contrast the experiences of Japanese Americans in the United States and Jews during the Holocaust. This book can also be used as a bridge for Element 3 and 4. Teachers can address the impact that sports play in curbing injustice and spearheading social change. Students can explore this reoccurring theme through examples like Jackie Robinson and the integration of African Americans in baseball, Billie Jean King in the Battle of the Sexes, the emergence of the Iranian and Saudi Arabian women's soccer teams, the LGBT Olympic movement in Russia, and many more.