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

City Green

Author: DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan

Grade Level: Kindergarten-3rd grade

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Summary: “City Green” by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan is about a young girl named Marcy who lives in the city. Across the street from her building is an old abandoned building. One day, Marcy and her neighbors watched as the building was demolished. Over time, the empty lot collected garbage which made Marcy sad every time she looked at it. In the spring, Marcy and her neighbor Miss Rosa started growing plants in empty coffee cans. After another neighbor suggested getting dirt from the lot instead of walking all the way to the park, Marcy had an idea: to turn the lot into a garden! After putting together a petition, Marcy and several others go to the city hall to ask for permission to use the lot. After getting permission, all the neighbors pitched in to work on the garden together, each of them helping to clean it up and plant different kinds of flowers and vegetables. Marcy even saw her grumpy old neighbor sneak over to plant seeds one night. Over time, the once empty lot became a beautiful community garden that everyone enjoyed.

Element 5 – Raising Awareness: This book can be categorized under Element 5 because it is a good example of raising awareness. The main character, Marcy, turned an empty lot into a garden with the help of her community. She put together a petition and was able to get enough signatures to go into town and ask for permission from the city to use this lot. Everyone in the neighborhood worked together to make this plan work and they all had a great time and great success in the end. This book shows that if you try and work hard, you can succeed in making a change. Marcy created awareness within her community and because she worked hard, she was able to make a difference with the help of everyone around her.

Activity: I would have a class discussion about the book and how Marcy raised awareness within her community. I would ask the students to give some ideas on how we can create change in our communities. Then I would give the students time to draw a picture of their idea and write a couple of sentences to along with their drawing, such as why/how this is helpful. After everyone is finished, I would go around and have all of the students share their drawings and ideas.

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