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.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I Could Do That! Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote

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Author: Linda Arms White
Illustrated by: Nancy Carpenter  

Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4  

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Summary: I Could Do That! Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote by Linda Arms White is a children’s book that is strategically written to explain that will and determination are characteristics that can help people achieve their goals.  The book begins with young Esther watching her mother make tea. Esther exclaims, “I can do that!” and proceeds to learn how to make tea. As Esther grows older she continues to observe her mother’s actions.  Each action her mother made, Esther believed she could learn how to achieve the same action. Esther’s strong belief in herself lead her to accomplish each of her mother’s actions.  As an adult, Esther continued to believe in herself. She was determined to achieve many different goals for herself and others, including women’s the right to vote in Wyoming. After achieving a childhood goal of women’s right to vote, she set her sights on becoming her county’s justice of the peace. The books concludes by showing Judge Esther Morris walking down the street in her town to vote for the first time.
Element 1: I Could Do That! Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote refers to the social justice element of social movement and social change because it discusses how a young girl’s determination and belief in herself provided her the will and power to make change. Throughout the book the illustrations show Esther achieving each goal she set out to accomplish, from making tea as a child, taking care of her family after her mother’s passing to women’s right to vote and becoming justice of the peace.
Activity: After reading the book, I Could Do That! Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote, I would have a class discussion on the main idea of the book. Once the discussion was complete, I would have the students work in three small groups and brainstorm a list of classroom rules or routines they would like to change. Once the list was complete, the groups would share their list with the class. The class would then vote on one rule or routine to change. Next, the class would create an action plan on how they would go about making the change. In the end, we would implement the change in the class. 
To extend the activity further, I would have the students think about what they are determined to achieve when they become teenagers and adults. I would have them write a story reflecting how they would achieve their goals. When the stories where finished, I would ask them to create illustrations to coincide with their books. When the insides of the books are finished, the students develop a cover page and title for their book. I would laminate and bind each book to add to our classroom library for all the students to read. Finally, while sitting in a circle, I would have each individual student share one goal they would like to achieve in the future.  By having the students make a change in the classroom, I am not only creating confidence but also allowing them to see that they can make a change, with the right will and determination.  

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