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.

Monday, November 18, 2013

DARE! Element 5: Raising Awareness

Title: DARE!
Author: Erin Frankel
Illustrator: Paula Heaphy
Grades: 2-3

Take a peek!

Short summary: This book is about teaching our children about bullying through the eyes of the bystander. It starts off by Jayla, the main character, telling the readers about how a classmate named Sam used to bully her last year. Other classmates didn't stand up for her and it left Jayla feeling sad and alone. However, this year Sam started picking on another classmate named Luisa. Though Jayla felt relieved that Sam was no longer picking on her, she felt bad that no one was standing up for Luisa when Sam would bully her. Jayla goes through a personal struggle of deciding whether or not to not get involved to avoid the risk of being bullied again or do what she felt was right and stand up against Sam with Luisa. Jayla must decide if she dares to have the courage to stop this cycle of cruelty. 

How does it represent Element 5: DARE! represents Element 5 because it brings attention to what bullying is and how this cycle of cruelty can take place in school. It grants children the opportunity to see how bullying affects the victim and the bystander. DARE! shows students how they can ask for help from adults by bringing it to their attention and how they can come together as a force of power with their other classmates to end the harassment.

How would you use the book: I would read this book to my classroom in the beginning of the year before starting a lesson on classroom rules and the environment of the class. I believe it is a good introduction on their expected behavior towards each other and empathy for one another. At the end of DARE!, there are notes from each of the characters (Jayla the bystander, Sam the bully, and Luisa the victim) that helps the reader further understand their perspective in the book. There are also small activities one can do with their class at the end of the book to further drive the point home that bullying and cruelty will not be accepted in this environment. 

Anything else: The illustrations are really eye catching! The illustrator's use of color was very clever and was used sparingly to highlight specific objects that she wanted the reader to focus on. It is appealing to adults and children alike. 

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