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.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Roses for Isabella

Roses for Isabella 

Author: Diana Cohn & Lynn Lohr
Illustrator: Amy Cordova
Grade Level: 2-5

Buy it here! 

Roses for Isabella is appropriate for grade levels 2-4. The book is written through the eyes of Isabella, a young Ecuadorian girl whose parents work on a rose farm. Her teacher, Miss Lopez, asks the students to write stories that will be read at a special assembly to honor Pachamama or Mother Earth. Isabella writes a story about her family’s experiences working on a rose farm. Isabella explains that her family used to work on a rose farm that was making her mother very sick from all the chemicals. Her father and mother were fired from this farm because her father had asked for the companies help for her mother and the other workers who were sick.  After her parents were fired, they started to work on a new farm, and her mother’s headaches went away. Her father was in charge of putting a special “Fair Trade” label on all the roses. Isabella explains that the roses are from farms that are cleaner and safer, and where workers get paid better. Since her family started working on this new farm, they were able to build a home, and their life changes for the better. 

Element 5, Raising Awareness:
The book, Roses for Isabella, is about raising awareness on the benefits of purchasing items from Fair Trade farms. Through the eyes if Isabella, students will learn about how her family’s life changed for the better when they found work on a Fair Trade farm and how Fair Trade practices benefit farmers and workers in poor countries around the world. Students will also learn that there are health benefits for people who buy Fair Trade items since these farms use safer farming practices with fewer chemicals.  In addition, Roses For Isabella teaches students how to look for items in stores that are Fair Trade certified.

I would read Roses for Isabella to the class. I would then discuss with students the importance of raising awareness for things they feel passionately about because raising awareness is a necessary and important pre-curser for action. I would then ask the students to think about a particular issue that is important to them that they want to advocate for. The students would research this topic and then create a poster that helps to raise awareness about their issue and each student would share their poster with the class. 

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