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 12, 2013

Element 5: The Day the Crayons Quit

             The Day the Crayons Quit

Written by Drew Daywalt

Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers


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                One day, Duncan went to open his box of crayons and instead found a bunch of letters addressed to him. His crayons had gone on strike! Each crayon left its own letter explaining why they are protesting. Red crayon says it is overworked and does not like that it has to work extra hard on holidays (hearts for Valentine’s Day, Santa on Christmas, etc.). Purple crayon wants Duncan to start working harder to color in the lines. Beige crayon wants to be labeled correctly (not “light brown” or “dark tan”) and wants to be used as much as Brown crayon. Gray crayon would like to be used to color smaller things and get a break from having to fill in such big animals like elephants. White crayon expresses feelings of emptiness, since it can never really be seen on paper. Black crayon wants to be used as more than just an outline. Green crayon loves his work, but wanted to tell Duncan about Orange and Yellow fighting. Orange crayon and Yellow crayon both think they are the correct color for the Sun. Blue crayon has been used so much he is down to just a little nub! Pink crayon has not been used and does not think it is a girl color. Peach crayon has been left naked, with no wrapper, and is too embarrassed to leave the box. In the end, Duncan creates a brand new picture to make all of his crayons happy! 

Element 5: Raising Awareness

                In this book, the crayons all get together and stand up for themselves by making their feelings known and going on strike. Each letter in the book addresses the specific problem of each individual crayon. This book introduces students to friendly letter-writing as a way of expressing oneself against what they feel is unjust. Students learn they do not always have to go along with situations they do not agree with. They are able to make their feelings known and can do so in a calm and polite manner. Although this is not about a specific historical social issue, the characters in the story are raising awareness about their own personal issues. In the end, the crayons are successful in creating change by raising awareness and making their feelings known. 


                As an activity to go along with this we can create a class “suggestions/comments box”. To start it off each student will write a letter about something either they do not like that is happening (like the red or gray crayons), they are feeling (like the white crayon), a problem with another peer (like the orange and yellow crayons), or something they think is going really well (like the green crayon).  Students will be able to practice spelling and grammar as well as proper letter-writing format. They will get practice in organizing their thoughts in a clear, productive, and friendly way. The teacher will make sure to go through the box and address as many of the issues from the students as possible, and hopefully all of them. Maybe a day could be spent with them discussing each issue (of course leaving out names and more personal issues- those students could be spoken to privately) so each student gets a say and a vote on how to deal with the problems. They will be able to understand that change is possible when you speak up and that everyone is allowed an opinion.

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