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.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Story of Ruby Bridges


   The Story of Ruby Bridges
   Author:Robert Coles
   Illustrator: George Ford
   Grade Level: 3-4

Element 3: Exploring Social Injustices

One of the main characters in this story was named Ruby Bridges. She is a young black girl born in the time of segregation and racism. Ruby was born in a small town in Mississippi.  She grew up in a very poor family and her father lost his job which caused the family to move. They moved to new Orleans, and the father became a janitor and the mother cleaned floors at a bank at night time. Ruby’s mother claimed they would go to church every single Sunday, because she wanted to children to feel close to the lord. This story was at a time when black children and white children did not attend the same schools. Black children did not receive education as good as the white. In 1960, a judge ordered four black girls to be sent to a white school. Three girls went to one school, and ruby alone was send to another. Ruby, a six year old, was sent to a white school called William Franz Elementary school. The family went to church and they prayed hard. They thanked god for this opportunity and prayed that they would be courageous enough to go through it. Ruby’s first day of school came around, and as she arrived to school, she saw an angry mob of white people standing outside of her school holding signs and protesting. Some of them were calling Ruby names and making her feel hurt, and  she was not defended by the police. Therefore, the president sent marshals with guns to walk ruby into school to protect her. Every day for months Ruby had to deal with this, but she never said a word. The white people stopped sending their children to school. When ruby went to school she was all alone, she was the only student there. There were no children to learn with, play with or have lunch with Ruby. It was just her and her teacher. Above all, Ruby went in with a positive attitude everyday anxious to learn. She learned to read and write. The teacher wondered how Ruby was able to do it, how she went through those mobs daily and seemed so comfortable and as if it did not affect her. The teacher decided to monitor Ruby to see if she would keep this positive attitude. Then one morning, Mrs. Henry her teacher, was waiting at the window as she watched Ruby go through the mob of angry people. Ruby stopped midway and Mrs. Henry could see Ruby’s lips moving and it was as if she was talking to them. Then ruby went into school. When Ruby walked into the classroom, her teacher questioned her, asking her what happened and what she said. Ruby claimed she was not talking to those people, but then her teacher claimed she saw her lips moving. Ruby said, she was not talking to them, but she was praying for them. She claimed every morning, she prayed for those who hated her a few blocks from school, but that morning she forgot to pray until she was in the middle of the mob. After school, Ruby hurried down the block where she again said the prayer she says daily before and after school. The prayer was asking god to forgive those people who said mean things to her because they do not know what they are doing, just as he had forgave people who said things to him in the past.  

Later that year, two white boys joined Ruby at school, and slowly all the students came back. By the second grade the mobs gave up. Years later Ruby graduated and went to high school. She has created a Ruby Bridges Educational Foundation, in order to involve parents.

 Element 3- Explorting Issues of social injustice
I think this story “The story of Ruby Bridges” ,  represents element three by its ability to recognize the horror of social injustices that we have had in the past.  These social injustices include both racism and segregation. I think it is important for students at a young age to be aware of these horrible issues in the past to help them find a better understanding of the improvements we have today. This book helps students to see the horrible effect that segregation can have on individuals, but it also leaves hope. It gives hope that things can get better and to maintain a positive attitude. I think this book is great because it can bring awareness to students about the injustices both in the past and present.

Activity: (two parts)
After reading the story allowed with the students, I will then have a discussion with the students about segregation, after the class discussion, the activity will follow.

Part 1: Points of Discussion
·        *  Define: segregation is excluding someone because they are different.
·         * Because someone is different, does not mean that their way is wrong or that they should be excluded.
·         * Just because someone looks different does not mean they should be excluded.
·         * Being different is unique not wrong.
·         * All people should be treated equally despite their differences.

Part 2: Activity
After the class discussion, this next activity will follow. The activity consists of having children trace their hands and cut it out. We all have different sizes and shaped of hands so this will help students see we are all different.  Then students are going to write on the hand something they think is unique and different about them. Then students are going to hang their hands in a circle on the bulletin board to display that we are all different, but in the end we all come together and were all equal. This activity will help students to understand it is wrong to segregate and that all people should be treated equally despite their differences. 


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