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.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Bully from the Black Lagoon

Element # 5: The Bully from the Black Lagoon   

Author: Mike Thaler

Illustrator: Jared Lee
Publisher: Scholastic
Grade Level: P-4


Hubie has heard that there's a new kid in school. His name is Butch Pounder, and he's rumored to be a “terrible bully.” Hubie has heard that Butch is as big as Coach Kong, and that at his old school he was the football team. The word on school grounds is that he transferred from the “state pen” and has a record, Butch is pictured out to be this mean, scary bully that everyone tries to avoid. Does Butch really have a record and transfer from the state pen, and eat the teacher's pet at his last school? Towards the end of the book, Hubie realizes that Butch Pounder is new to the school and transferred from the state of Pennsylvania and that after all he is a good kid. All Butch wanted was a friend, and Hubie was just that friend.
Element V: Raising Awareness
This book relates to Element #5, Raising Awareness, because it educates students about how judging others before knowing them can often lead to bullying, even if the person doesn't realize what they are doing it is still hurtful and can be life threatening. Students might relate their personal life experiences with those of the character, it will give them a sense of understanding that it is always best to get to know someone. There’s a saying, “Never judge a book by its cover,” meaning that students might look intimidating or mean, but those students might just be the ones that are caring and make good friends. Students will learn the importance of respecting others and standing up for one another. Students will be able to advocate for their peers.
Using the book in the classroom:

After reading the story to the class, I would have the students talk within small groups and think about how they would feel if they were judged before someone met them and if their classmates avoided them based on what they heard from others. Afterwards, I would have the student’s share their responses and have the class think of ways in which we could all stop making judgments and start getting to know them. With their answers I would create a chart that would be hung in the classroom to stress the importance of making validated judgments and our mission as a class to advocate against bullying. I would also show a short video on bullying and how it affects us all. 

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