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 11, 2013



Author: Nikki Giovanni

Illustrator: Bryan Collier

Grade Level: 3-5


This link may also be helpful in a class discussion!

Summary: Rosa tells the story of Rosa Parks, a black woman living in Montgomery, Alabama during one of the saddest, most shameful periods in US history. This book takes place when racism, discrimination, and white supremacy were dominant nationwide, particularly in the deep south. One day during her bus ride home from work, Rosa sits in the section of the bus reserved for whites. When the bus driver tells her to sit in the “colored” section of the bus, Rosa refuses and the bus driver has her arrested. This single event was an extremely daring act that sparked a revolution. As stated in the book, "Rosa’s integrity, dignity, and quiet determination turned her “no” into a “yes” for change." This book is also the winner of The Coretta Scott King Award.

Elements of Element 4: Rosa is a fantastic book for Element 4: Social Movements and Social Change because it emphasizes that one small event or daring act can spark a significant change, not only in our personal freedoms, but for the betterment of our country and its people. Rosa Parks was determined to end inequality and took a stand for the injustices being done to the black community. The Civil Rights Movement can definitely be paired with this book and is most certainly an obvious way in which people took action to end segregation in a nonviolent way.

Classroom Use/Activities: Rosa would probably be an excellent book to discuss with your class during Black History Month. Discrimination and segregation which occurred during The Civil Rights Movement (and all the years prior) would be two excellent topics to delve into while reading this book. All of the events leading up to The Civil Rights and the actual Civil Rights Movement should definitely be coupled by this book and could probably make a very interesting unit plan. After reading the book, students could write a brief essay as to what they would have done if they were in Rosa Parks’ shoes and/or what they would tell her if they could meet her. A live enactment/simulation could also take place in the classroom with regards to discrimination or segregation in order to invoke an emotional response in the students. In addition, in order to implement the arts using this book, students can design/create a poster board they would use during this era to support racial equality using only illustrations and no words. 

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