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.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Element #5- Raising Awareness: A River Ran Wild

Title:  A River Ran Wild
Author:  Lynn Cherry
Illustrated by:  Lynn Cherry
Grade Level: 3-5
Publisher:  Harcourt Children's Books

A River Ran Wild is a beautiful non-fiction story about pollution and environmental change.  The books provides a historical look at how the Nashua River in Massachusetts became polluted over time.  The author uses the perspective of Native Americans and their care of the land to compare how modern society cares for  the land.   The story is based on the real life actions of Marion Stoddard and her quest to restore the river to its natural beauty.  Following the story, the book ends with the real account and pictures of those that helped clean up the river.  Children get to view how other children are now part of this cause to protect the river.

Element #5-  Raising Awareness
This book relates to the fifth element of social justice, raising awareness, because the story is a great spring board for the issue of protecting the environment and making people aware of environmental problems.   Through the story, students are able to visualize the changes in the river and may be moved to advocate for protecting nature.  At the end of the book, students have the opportunity to see how real life people, including children, can become activists for a cause.  In addition, students learn specifically what the people of the Nashua River did to raise awareness of their cause.  There are empowering examples and lessons to be learned from this book.

Classroom Activity:
One possible follow up activity to this story is to teach students how to write a persuasive letter to a newspaper.  Students can raise awareness to a local issue decided upon by the class.  Students can research their topic and use evidence to support the topic of their persuasive letter.  Another activity that can be done to raise awareness would be to have students look for problems or issues in their community.  They can create posters, fliers and other materials to share with other school members.  

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