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.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Earth Day: Keeping Our Planet Clean

Author: Elaine Landau
Grade Level: 1-5

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Summary: This 48 page large-text chapter book traces the history of Earth Day from the first celebration in 1970 to the current annual observance on April 22. You also read about what you can do to help save and protect the environment. The five chapters are easily identifiable and are accompanied by vibrant pictures. Landau also does an excellent job of including school ideas and projects, a glossary of key terms, supplemental readings, as well as additional websites.

Element 6: Taking social action is the crucial final element and it is important to select a issue that our students will have some background knowledge about, and our planet is a great example of that. Landau entitled chapter 5: "What You Can Do" and that speaks volumes to what element 6 is all about. I bring up a great activity for the purpose of celebrating Earth Day in the next section but this chapter also gives students everyday tips for helping their planet. From turning off the lights when you leave a room to taking it a step further by writing a letter about how you feel toward the environment and sending it to a local newspaper of elected official, Landau does a great job of showing students that they can complete all of these tips with their families and making many more people aware of their social action.

Activity: I feel like this book would be perfect  as a read aloud during an Earth Day week unit plan and can even be placed in a classroom library for students to read on their own. Chapter 4, "Earth Day at School", had brought up an interesting fact that for every nine grocery bags that were filled with newspaper, it equaled one tree saved. This had me thinking about all of the paper that a classroom recycles between the beginning of the school year in September to Earth Day in April. Every so often, I would take our classroom recycled paper and put it in large black bags to hold on to. Once our class finished the book, I would tell the students that we will be taking the paper and putting it into grocery bags to be able to show them just how many trees they can save by recycling. I was also thinking that you could expand that to other classrooms and perhaps talk to the principal or B.O.E. to see how the school could go about planting trees from the amount of bags of paper that they all recycled.

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