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 25, 2013

The Berenstain Bears Go Green

Title: "The Berenstain Bears: Go Green"
Authors: Jan and Mike Berenstain
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Interest Level: K-2

Go Purchase "The Berenstain Bears: Go Green" NOW and share it with your students! 

If you enjoyed this one, here is another book about recycling

To learn more about The Berenstain Family, click here!

In "The Berenstain Bears: Go Green", the Bear Family resides in Bear Country where there are more than just bears.  There are deers, ducks, raccoons, and possums just to name a few!  One day, the Bear Family decides to go fishing at a creek where Grizzly Gramps keeps his boat.  While on the creek, not only does the family begin to smell something unusual, but they also see garbage beginning to fill the water.  Realizing this is from the Bear Country Dump, the family investigates the situation a little further and notices that there are old cars, mattresses, and broken washing machines surrounding the edge of the creek.  After learning this, the Bear family becomes irate and decides to take action at their local town meeting.  Were the actions of the Bear Family and other residents enough to get the Bear Country Dump cleaned?  You will have to read the book to find out! 

Element #6: Taking Social Action:
Jan and Mike Berenstain’s “The Berenstain Bears: Go Green” is a prime example of element six because it emphasizes the role that individuals can play in making a change in their environment.  Element six enhances the ideology of people wanting to go above and beyond in order to seek a difference for the greater good of all humans.  Through learning about the problem at Bear Country Dump, students are able watch as the Bear Family not only addresses the situation to those in authority, but also works in rectifying the problem.  This book raises children’s awareness as it teaches them that they have the potential to make a change!  Furthermore, it exemplifies the notion of “going green” and pollution and explains how we can help save the earth.  

Follow-Up Activity:  
In order to reinforce the concept of making a change in the environment, there are numerous activities that can be conducted.  However, these activities depend upon the age of the students the book is being read to.  For students in Kindergarten, I would conduct a read aloud stopping at various points to ask questions, while providing the students with opportunities to make predictions as well as connections.  I would also have the students list ways in which we can help the earth and have them follow through with one of the suggestions.  One possible suggestion could be recycling.  For this activity, I would send a letter home to the parents asking them to send in plastic water bottles, detergent bottles, scraps of paper, and cans.  As a class, we would practice sorting the items to see where each item belongs.  For students who are in first or second grade, I would provide them with the supplies to create slogans and posters stating the importance of going green and hang them in the halls so that other classes can see it.  In the classroom, the students could put together a skit pertaining to a specific world problem (ie: recycling, bullying, going green) and demonstrate how they would aim to resolve it.  

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