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

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez

Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez
By Kathleen Krull
Ages: 6-9
Grades: 1-3

Summary:  This is a non-fiction story about Cesar Chavez’s life.  He is one of the most well known civil rights activists in American history.  Cesar led a 340-mile peace protest march to Sacramento California.  His family owned a farm in Arizona and was surrounded by caring family and friends.  Unfortunately, up until Cesar was ten years old, a drought ruined the family farm and they had to search for other ways to produce income.  They eventually ended up in California working as farm helpers.  Here they suffered severe conditions in exchange for barely enough money to live off of.  Cesar decided that is wasn’t air that he was being mistreated for his race and that he must make a change.  He gathered an organization that fought for migrant farm workers rights.  He swore against using violence and chose strikes and protest to make his point.  He started a march of 67 people, and ended up with 10,00 people marching, to let people know that he is tired of being powerless.

Element #3: Exploring Issues of Social Injustice:  This story teaches students of important past history, as well as courage and triumph.  It covers topic of race, hard days of labor, workers rights.  Cesar overcame a complex problem with justice for farm workers, without using any violence.  He led migrant workers to the first successful agriculture strike that the U.S. had known, signing the first farm worker contract in American history.

Follow up Activity: Cesar made others aware of the conditions that the workers were suffering.  He raised awareness and support for change. A good follow up activity is for students to interview people from their household including parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.  They can ask them questions about their first job, what they did, what were the conditions like, how were they treated, who did they work with, etc.  After this, students will create this interview into the format of a newspaper article, including pictures.

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