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.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

This Is The Dream

Authors: Diane Z. Shore & Jessica Alexander
Illustrated By: James Ransome
Grade Level: K-3

Buy it here!

This Is The Dream is a book that introduces children to the discrimination African-Americans faced before the civil rights movement, the progress that was made during the civil rights movement, and shows how our country got to be the way it is today.  This Is The Dream takes children through the times of whites only seating sections and segregated schools, teaches of the struggles and triumphs of the everyday people and extraordinary leaders that led the way during the civil rights movement, and shows how we became a nation of freedom and justice for all.

Element 3- Exploring Issues of Social Injustice:
This Is The Dream is a great book for Element 3 because it explores the issue of racism and demonstrates to children how racial discrimination has impacted African Americans in the past.  Through its creative and beautiful illustrations and rhyming dialogue, this book shows children how things used to be for the African American community by showing the separate drinking fountains, seating sections on buses and restaurants, and libraries and schools for white and colored people that existed prior to the civil rights movement. However, this book doesn't just show how things used to be for African Americans, it also takes children through the civil rights movement by demonstrating how everyday people fought for change and briefly introduces children to civil rights leaders like Ella Baker and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  The book ends by showing children the world that they are used to living in today, but children walk away from this book with the new knowledge that our country was not always this way as many people fought very hard to establish freedom and justice for all.

One of the things I liked most about This Is The Dream was how it incorporated real pictures and people from the civil rights movement within some of the illustrations on the pages.  In fact, the book starts off with a collage representing how things were prior to the civil rights movement (whites only and colored signs, mentions of Jim Crow and the American Dream, etc.) and ends with a collage to represent today (diverse children holding hands, freedom and justice for all signs, the Statue of Liberty, etc.).  An activity I would do in a classroom in conjunction with this book would be to have students make their own collages that demonstrate what they learned about how things were prior to the civil rights movement, during the civil rights movement, and how they think our country is today.

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