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.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Give A Goat

"Give a Goat"

Author:  Jan West Schrock
Illustrated by:  Aileen Darragh

Grade Level: 1-5
Reading Level Ages: 6-10

Find this book!

After their teacher reads them the book "Beatrice's Goat" about a Ugandan girl who's life is improved by the gift of a goat, Mrs. Rowell's Fifth Grade class decides to do some fundraising themselves. The book describes the efforts of the class to raise money by selling healthy snacks, from the basic planning to the act of donating, and all of the curriculum based activities involved in having the students launch such a humanitarian project. As this class of students inspires other classes to raise money for various groups, the lesson learned is clearly stated by Jan West Schrock through her student narrator, "I think everyone learned that giving - and passing on the gift - feels really good."  The combination of pen and ink and watercolor illustrations add a great touch to this book, and the building sense of accomplishment can only end with students wishing to create their own effort to do something to make a difference in the world.

Element Six:  Social Action

This book is an excellent example of Element Six: Social Action because it shows an example of the difference that one Fifth Grade class made not only to the community that they donated the goat to, but to the attitude of the rest of the school about how good it feels to be involved in the act of helping others.  Through the organization, Heifer International, this book outlines a simple but effect way that students can improve the lives of families in places within the United States as well as to those in places far away, such as Africa.  Additionally, this book sends multiple positive messages: being an example of a group that makes a difference can inspire others to make a difference, in donating an animal to someone in an impoverished area helps in so many ways.  A goat, for example, gives the family enough milk to drink, the family gets healthier as a result from drinking milk, and they can sell any extra milk for money.  This, in turn, improves the health of the neighbors by providing them with milk to drink.  In the end, each family that receives a gift is able to assist yet another family, and the students who donated the original gift learn that they have created a positive change that will continue on.

Follow Up Activity

Simply by following the steps that the class in the book follow, any class could raise money to send an animal to a family in need.  The Heifer International Website also offers a "Read to Feed" project for schools, as well as many other ideas about fundraising for their organization within a school setting.


Heifer International, Give a Goat

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