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 Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming

Title: The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming
Author: Laurie David and Cambria Gordon
Publisher: Scholastic
Grade Level: 3-5th 

Summary:  This book is essentially what it says it is in the title: a guide.  It is loaded with beautiful collages, photos, illustrations, and very appealing text.  It is broken down into four parts-- What is global warming?, how it may effect the weather, how it effects animals, and finally-- what can kids do to stop global warming.  The first part gives a clear explanation of what global warming is, as well as explaining how carbon footprints, excess carbon dioxide, fuel, and etc., play a part in global warming.  The next part, titled weird, wacky, weather, discusses hurricanes, floods, beach erosion, and other kinds of weather and how global warming has an impact on this. The next part is titled: Extinction Stinks.  Here, it talks about all different types of animals from all over the world and how global warming effects these animals and their environments.  Finally the last part, titled What You Can Do to Stop Global Warming, does an excellent job of providing opportunities for students to get involved.  One page even teaches children how to write a letter to the mayor.  It provides great resources and organizations that students can become a part of.

Element 6: Taking Social Action
This element involves the teacher providing students with opportunities to get involved in their community, and to help make a change or identify issues that they feel passionate about.  This book provides so much information about may different aspects of global warming and the effects that it has on our environment.  It allows students to first gain the knowledge they need to know, as well as the tools, resources, and ideas about how to combat these issues.  This book teaches children how to write a letter, ways they can recycle, more efficient resources, and many more, as well as giving students the resources they need to accomplish these goals (websites, names of organizations, etc.).

There are so many possible activities that could go along with this book that allow students to take social action, but as a teacher, I would focus on one area at a time.  Students  would read the extinction chapter of The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming, and learn more about how global warming leads to extinction of endangered animals.  A good activity I found in another resource: "A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids" by Julie Hall suggests students can start a cell phone recycling program in their school.  A chemical that can be conserved by recycling cell phones is the reason why a great deal of the Congo Rain forest is being destroyed and in turn is putting Congo gorillas on the verge of extinction. They would then get in groups to start different parts of this project.  Some students could write a persuasive letter to the principal in order to inform him or her of the importance of starting this program, whereas some could start making posters to hang up around the school for advertisement.  This activity allows students to teach their peers what they have learned, as well as to make an actual difference by taking action in their community. 

Another activity may include students identifying a specific topic in the book, and then doing an internet search to find organizations that are helping that specific cause.  The students could then promote the action that his/her organization of choice is taking to students around the school by advertising or writing a letter to the principal to promote this organization.  This activity allows students to choose a topic that they may have a greater interest in, while still taking social action.  This book, as mentioned before, already comes with a great deal of resources and ways to take social action.

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