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.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Grandmama's Pride

Title: Grandmama's Pride
Author: Becky Birtha
Illustrated by: Colin Bootman
Reading level: Grades 3-4
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company


Grandmama's Pride is a fictional story that takes place in the south during the 1950s. Sarah and her little sister lived in the north with their family. One summer the girls and their mother travel to  grandmama's home in the south. It didn't seem odd that they had to sit in the back of the bus. Sarah and her sister did not question why they could not eat at the lunch counter. They did not think much about the local bus station that only offered seats to whites. Mom always found a polite way of explaining away these restrictions.The girls begin to notice some peculiar habits about their grandmother. She walked everywhere instead of taking the bus.She also refused to drink at the public water fountain. Once Sarah learned how to read, she realized the many signs of segregation posted throughout town. This form of discrimination clearly marked services available for whites and colored.Sarah and her family eventually return home, continuing  to read about the civil rights protest taking place in Montgomery Alabama.
The following summer, the ride down south was surprisingly different. The girls did not encounter  restrictions of public services for blacks. Once they arrived,Grandma excitedly explained that black citizens proudly held their ground to get segregation laws changed. Sarah realized Grandma was demonstrating pride all along by boycotting the double standard of services. The steadfast efforts for social change had made a difference.

Element #4- Social Movement and Change

This book describes segregation faced by African-Americans in the south as view through the eyes of a child. Once Sarah can read she understands the blatant signs signal a difference in treatment of whites and colored. She was not aware that refusing to uses public services was a form of boycotting. She is also not aware of her grandmother's silent involvement in the civil rights movement. Newspapers and TV communicated the struggle for civil rights to American's not residing in the south. The whole country watched boycotts, bus rides, protesting, and the March on Washington. It was a time of tremendous change and milestones  for blacks. Sarah was both surprised and proud to discover that her grandmother was involved in the fight for equality. Grandmama's pride in boycotting became Sarah's pride. When Sarah returned to the south, she was proud to see  that changes in segregation laws had occured. This was accomplished by her grandmother and others working in a unified civil rights effort.

Follow-up Activity

The teacher can facilitate a classroom activity to increase awareness of unfair treatment based upon color of skin.A lesson can be presented on civil rights and segregation.To increase  understanding,the teacher will seperate the class into two teams. Team members  will wear name badges in red or blue. Class privileges will vary based upon the color of a student's badge.
Sentence strips will be posted in the back seating area stating ; you can not drink at the fountain, you cannot try on clothes, you cannot sit up front, you will receive lower pay. For 10 minutes, only students wearing red name tags will be allowed to sit in the front of the class and participate. Students wearing blue name tags will be told to sit in the back or on the rug. They will also not be allowed to respond to questions about the lesson. After 10 minutes the teams will switch seating locations. The red team now sits in the back and can not participate.
The class holds a  discussion around how it felt to experience different treatment based upon the color of their name tag. Students connect  their  activity to segregation of whites and blacks. Students will write an opinion paragraph using the prompt: Is it right to treat people differently based upon the color of their skin?

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