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.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down

Author: Andrea David Pinkney
Illustrator: Brian Pinkney
Grade Level: 3-5

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down is appropriate for grades 3-5.  It is a story that depicts the historical event that occurred in Greensboro, North Carolina in defiance of segregation on February 1, 1960.  Four college students peacefully sat down at a “Whites Only” Woolworth’s counter and ordered food.  With the words of Martin Luther King Jr. in their minds, they enacted the first ever sit-in in hopes of ending the injustice of segregation between blacks and whites in restaurants and in public places everywhere.  This act was bravely repeated by others and grew in number and intensity throughout America. 

Element 4: 
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down represents element 4, Social Movements and Social Change, by teaching the reader about monumental movements of everyday people coming together to stand up for a cause in hopes of creating change.  This book focuses on the social injustice that black people endured during the 1960s in the US.  It demonstrates that with courage and in the spirit of love and peace, ordinary people can protest injustice in hopes of creating equality.  A single act started by four college students in Greensboro, North Carolina soon spread throughout other Southern US towns and the rest of the country.  This act eventually caught the attention of lawmakers and led to Congress passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation in public places.  Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down shows readers that through passion, determination, and nonviolent protest, one can create change.

An activity that can be utilized with Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood up by Sitting Down is a read-aloud followed by a Protest Poster.  After reading the book aloud, I would engage in a class discussion on students’ thoughts and feelings on the book, utilizing high-order questioning strategies.  I would ask comprehension questions at all levels and address the illustrations to aid in understanding.  I would show a video clip depicting the four actual college students years later discussing the actions they took on the day of this first historical sit-in.  As a culminating activity, I would instruct students to think about an issue that they presently find unfair (example: bullying, etc).  Students would share their thoughts with a partner to discuss reasons for this unfairness.  Students would create individual protest posters to depict this injustice.  They can get as creative as they would like in this poster.  Upon completion, the finished posters would be proudly displayed on a class bulletin board.  

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