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, November 19, 2013

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909

Author:  Michelle Markel 
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet 
Grade Level: 4th-5th grade 


Brave Girl is based on a true story about a young Ukrainian immigrant that came to America for a brighter future. Her name was Clara Lemlich. When Clara  realizes that companies are hiring thousands of immigrant girls to make blouses, dresses, coats and other women's clothing, she quickly offers her service for a position as a garment worker. After some time working for the garment company, Clara realizes the injustice that goes on with  the employees and the circumstances that the employees work under. Clara decides to stand up for whats right and gathers a strike with the rest of the girls that also worked with her. Clara faces brutal hardships throughout the strikes but she never gives up. Clara ended up leading the largest walkout of women workers in the country's history. By the time the strike was over hundreds of bosses agreed to the formation of unions, shorter workweeks, and higher salaries. 

Element 5- Awareness Raising 

The book represents element 5 because it promotes raising awareness on any  issue that the children might feel strongly about such as pollution or same sex marriage.This book demonstrates the importance of standing up for what is right and expressing your concerns. The book raised awareness on the mistreatment of garment workers during the early 1900's.  This book shows how much influence one person can have on society by just promoting awareness to others and informing them on how they can change things for the better. The book manifests the importance of having an opinion and a voice. The illustrations in the book are very vivid and detailed. The students can clearly understand what is going on in each page through the pictures. 

Classroom Activity:  To further the lesson on Element 5 you can integrate the following activity with the children. 

After reading the book with the children you can gather your classroom in a small circle and choose a social justice issue that the children might feel strongly about. Give the children some time to do their research and gather their information.  After gathering the information, the classroom will then create information booklets that will  be sent out to all the classrooms in the school as a way to raise awareness. 

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