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, February 25, 2014

Martin's Big Words

Title: Martin’s Big Words
Author: Doreen Rappaport
Illustrator: Bryan Collier
Age Range: 5-8 year olds

            Martin’s Big Words is a story on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  The story starts out with MLK as a young boy who comes across a sign that reads “WHITE ONLY.”  His mother explains that signs like that are all across the Southern states and he should remember that he is as good as anyone else.  These words empowered MLK to do great things.  In the story it states that he always used the word “love” when everyone else used “hate.”  The story talks about Rosa Parks and how she got arrested and goes on to say that many African Americans decided to stop riding the buses until they were allowed to sit where ever they pleased.  MLK was one of them.  The story states that for years after this incident African Americans continued to protest for equal rights and how many where murdered and beaten but MLK had to convince them to not fight back and how love was more powerful than fists.  The story ends with MLK’s “I have a Dream” speech and that ultimately results in the end of segregation. 

Element 3: Exploring Issues of Social Injustice
            I think this book is a great way to teach element 3.  This book provides students with information on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., segregation, civil rights, and a little bit on Rosa Parks.  This book allows students to understand some of the problems African Americans had to overcome.  This book is a great way to teach students the history of segregation and the civil rights movement and how far we have come from this.  I believe this book was written very well for students to understand the history concepts. 

            I think this book would be great to share on Martin Luther King day.  As a follow up activity I would show students the Martin Luther King speech and also use a template with eight boxes on the page.  The first box will be titled “My Big Words.”  In the following boxes I will have students write their own big words at the top in big letters then have them draw a picture or describe why that word is big to them.  This activity will coincide great with the book because it talks about Martin Luther King’s big words and how he used them to empower himself and others.  I will encourage students to share their big words and see which students chose the same words and have students explain the words are big to them.  I would then hang all of the students' words on a bulletin board in the classroom or hallway to empower students with their own hopes and dreams. 

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