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.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist

Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist

Title: Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist
Author: Philip Dray
Illustrator: Stephen Alcorn
Publisher: Peachtree Pub Ltd
Grade Level: 1-4
Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist is the story of Ida B. Wells and the effect of slavery and lynching in Holly Springs, Mississippi, in 1862. The book travels with Ida through her journey as an active journalist fighting for justice. Her childhood gave her the strength and ambition to fight for what is right, equality. In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation grants freedom to slaves. This had the former slaves reunite with the American promise of ‘freedom and justice for all’. During this time Ida B. Wells was just a baby, focusing on the hardships her parents faced. Ida was born a slave in 1862 during the Civil War, her parents belonged to a white man who did not like the idea that the Civil War ended and that slavery was made illegal. Ida’s father lost his job as a carpenter because his white boss did not accept the fact that “black people were not ready for the responsibilities of freedom, especially voting”. Ida describes the struggles she had of leaving school to care for her younger siblings, the death of parents and youngest brother, and caring for her siblings on her own. The text allows the readers to follow Ida throughout her life as a teacher, moving to Memphis, Tennessee, joining the Lyceum, segregation, the life of a journalist and much more. This book focuses on the positive and the negative that Ida B. Wells faced during this difficult time period, and how she fought to stop lynching all throughout the country. Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist, is a sophisticated picture book that describes a true American hero, and her views through journalism.

"The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them."—Ida B. Wells

Element III: Exploring Issues of Social Injustice
I chose this book because it stuck out to me as a sophisticated picture book. It also focuses on racism and how it has impacted the life of Ida B. Wells and the people who lived during her time. It was valuable to me because it had a woman on the front cover and during that time women weren’t seen as “powerful” or “educated”, and to see a woman taking such action made it even more special to be brought into a classroom. It represents my element, exploring issues of social injustice because it describes how this form of oppression affected different communities. It relates to our historical roots of oppression as Americans and who and how it impacted lives. Although lynching does not occur today, racism still does and it has to be addressed to children at earlier ages so that they can develop their own understanding of everyone and how they want to view people, hoping for equality and positive views.

Using the book in the classroom:
After reading the book, I would have the students discuss in small groups what they thought about the reading. I would then have the students get their journals out and write a response as if they were journalists like Ida B. Wells; having them fight for something they find to be important through their writing. This is a thorough lesson plan and should take about 3-4 days. Considering that the students have to gather information, find something that is important to them, obtain a journal and or newspaper article, and create their own journal as a class (creating several drafts). This activity will focus on U.S. History and on reading and writing. It will give students the ability to broaden their knowledge by building on the known and expanding the unknown. Throughout the book, I could ask questions to the students and post reading I can continue by asking them open-ended questions.

Eva Fernandez

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