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


Title: Crow

Author: Barbara Wright

Illustrator: N/A

Reading Level: grades 5 & up

Buy it here!

More information directly from Barbara Wright

Crow is the story of Moses Thomas, a fictional character from Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898.  Moses is aware of his family's background but because his parents and Boo Nanny (grandmother) were trying to teach him to be good and just, they neglected to inform him of the hate that exists within the world, especially just 35 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.  Because of this, he does not know that the tension between the white and black communities that he experiences everyday, is growing and will soon lead to a huge Race Riot.

Moses' strives to emulate his father's idea of a good and intelligent man, but because of his naivety, puts himself in danger.  It is only after Moses tries to help Mr. Manly, the black man seen as the target for many Red Shirt White Supremacists, that his father breaks down and explains to him the dangers that truly await the black community.

Element 3- Exploring Issues of Social Injustice:
This book explores Social Injustice for the treatment of black citizens living in the South after the Civil War during the time of Jim Crow laws.  From a young boy's point of view, we see alongside Moses the issues that he sees as everyday, like not being able to go on one side of the Railroad tracks.  By learning from a young, fairly sheltered, perspective we see how a 12 year-old boy matures to see the threat of hatred that surrounds him.  We see how he feels sad that he is unable to do things that white children do and also realize the concern he feels for his and his loved ones' safety.

Fourth grade students may not have much background knowledge on the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments nor the Jim Crow laws that supported the racial segregation of the time, so I would allow students some time on the computer to research.  As this book is recommended for grades 5th and up, I would read this book aloud to a fourth grade class.  At the end of reading the book, I would ask students to think of other times a group of people faced hatred and segregation.  We would research as a class about these times of oppression and students could work in groups to make presentations about their research.  Finally, at the end I would ask students to think about their own families and whether they had felt any hatred, relating the broader scheme of history back to the personal level.

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