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

Our Rights: How Kids Are Changing the World

Author/Illustrator: Janet Wilson
Grade Level: 3 - 5

Buy it here!


This book opens with a short poem, "The Star Thrower", about making a difference for just one starfish and lists all 42 articles from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The book then creates profiles about children from around the world of all different ages, religions, class, political views, etc. These particular children have either suffered from or witnessed a particular social justice issue.  These children are changing the world as they have raised awareness within their community or global scale, and have taken social action against these injustices. For example, Hanwool Park, 17 from South Korea was severely bullied for years and did not receive any support from his school or parents. Hanwool now, creates videos against bullying in hopes of raising awareness so he can prevent other victims from suffering in silence.

Element 5
This book represents Element 5 as every child profiled details how they raised awareness to their particular social justice issue.  Whether it was making documentaries, organizing peace marches, writing books, creating websites, or encouraging others to write letters to government officials, all the children raised awareness. For example, Shannen Koostachin, 13, of Canada led the largest children's right movement driven by youths.  This campaign was only achieved by creating videos where she encouraged students to write letters to the government raising awareness to run down schools in the northern reserves.

Using the Jigsaw Method, I would split the classroom into groups according to the different profiles. After the student groups have analyzed, researched, and created posters about their particular child, all groups would participate in a Gallery Walk. After the students have participated and fully understood all profiles from the book, I will ask students to choose their favorite child, or social justice issue that interested them the most.  Next, students will write a letter to their particular child applauding them for their efforts in raising awareness.  Finally, students will then take their social justice issue and just as their child did, raise awareness.  Students will be able to choose their own means of raising awareness, whether it may be letter writing, creating internet blogs, creating videos, etc. This way students will be actively participating in aiding their child in helping raise awareness and will in turn, raise awareness in the classroom after presenting their ideas.

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