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.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Element 6: Taking Social Action - The Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect with Others (Near & Far) to Create Social Change





Title 
The Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect with Others (Near & Far) to Create Social Change


Author
Barbara A. Lewis

Age Range: 11 and up

Grade Level: 6 - 12

Paperback: 144 pages

Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing (December 15, 2007)

Purchase The Teen Guide to Global Action” online.

To find a book about Service Projects for younger students click here.

Summary
This is a good book for a young person who wants to make a difference in the world but is not very clear on how to get started. The book starts with the 4 Steps to Global Action. 1. Find your cause (includes a survey to determine interests) 2. Research your cause (media, texts, internet) 3. Plan your action (volunteer, organize service efforts, advocate for a cause, protest) 4. Take action (includes 5 step action plan).
The book also includes a section that addresses how to connect with others or form your own group. Additionally it includes 7 categories of causes: Human Rights; Hunger & Homelessness; Health & Safety; Education; Environment & Conservation; Youth Representation; Peace and Friendship. The 7 categories each include facts on the issue, how to keep it local, and how to take it global. The Teen Guide to Social Action also has stories about current activist called “Difference Makers” and past activist.

That’s a lot, right?

Too much to go into a whole bunch of detail. That’s why it’s good to remember that this book is merely a guide, as the title states, to help you get started or steer you in the right direction if you’re stymied. The organization of the book is a bit confusing but other than that I would recommend it. This would be a good book to use in a social studies unit.

Element #6: Taking Social Action
“The Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect with Others (Near & Far) to Create Social Change” is clearly a book that supports Element 6 – Social Action. I like that the book discusses taking social action both locally and globally.
Not only does this book provide a guide to students on how to take social action in a variety of causes, but it also shares stories of young people past & present who have already taken social action. I feel this is an important aspect of the book because it can provide a confidence boost to students. A student might think “if that young person did it then so can I!” There is a story about Benjamin Quinto in the book that describes how this young man took social action to create an organization involving a global network of young activist that gained a position within the United Nations. There’s also the story of Cindy Perez who played a major role in getting the Dream Act passed which allowed immigrants who are not yet citizens access to a college education.

Follow-Up Activities:
1. Have students take the survey in the “Teen Guide to Global Action” book in the “Find Your Cause” section. Divide the class into two groups of the most popular causes. Have one group take local action by researching the social justice issue and/or e-mailing officials. The other group can take global action by creating posters/ T-shirts etc. to use for raising awareness in conjunction with fundraising efforts like bake sales.

2.  Have students choose the social injustice issue that they would most like to work with by completing the survey in the “Teen Guide to Global Action” book. Grouping students by their cause of choice, have students use the resources provided in the book to research opportunities to volunteer in support of their cause. After completing a minimum of one hour volunteering, students should write a brief essay about their experience including their observations.

3. Have the class randomly choose a cause for their project. The class will work in groups to create dialogue, props, posters, etc. for a brief play/public service announcement/role play, etc. Students will be videotaped acting out their scene. Students will e-mail the video to family and friends and ask them to share the video on social media. (Students who prefer not or are not allowed to be in the video can work on props, posters, T-shirts, dialogue, etc.)


SIT-IN HOW FOUR FRIENDS STOOD UP BY SITTING DOWN

Social Justice Element 6

Title: SIT- IN HOW FOUR FRIENDS STOOD UP BY SITTING DOWN 
Author: Andrea Davis Pinkney
Illustrator: Brian Pinkney
Resources: 

Purchase Here:


Summary: This children's book is a great example of a peaceful protest when talking about the Civil Rights Movement.  This book is about four college friends who were inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words "We must meet hate with love". On February 1st, 1960 these four friends each took a seat at the Woolworth's lunch counter in hopes of being served a doughnut and coffee, with cream on the side. Although there was a sign that read "WHITES ONLY",  they still waited to be served.  The police officer could not do anything as these boys were not committing a crime or creating any harm by just sitting.  News spread about the four boys and there sit in, and the next day more students showed up at Woolworth's lunch counter. The waitresses reminded these students that only whites would be served.  This protest at Woolworth diner spread and there were other counter protests in Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and many others.  As more of these sit-ins grew, angry people threw hot coffee down their backs, threw pepper in their eyes and yelled at the students. Although many of the students wanted to fight back, they remained peaceful. The sit-ins were shown on television, and eventually students were arrested and taken to jail. Instead of fighting, they sang songs.  That same year, an activist Ella Baker organized a leadership conference to help students demonstrate their cause where they formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The book ends by talking about how President John F. Kennedy got a taste of SNCC and urged American's to start treating all people fairly, which eventually became the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 


Element 6: This book is a great example of element 6 which is social action because it demonstrates students who fought for what they believed in by taking action.  The hard work and courage these four college students portrayed by peacefully protesting at Woolworth lunch counter took a stab at segregation and eventually created change.   People across different states started to protest at lunch counters for the same cause. By 1964, The Civil Rights Act became a law which banned segregation in public places. The hard work and determination of the many college students and people fighting for what they believed in by not giving up until someone served them coffee, allowed this change to become a reality. This book stresses the importance of peaceful protests rather than violence in order to stand up for what you believe in.  

How I Would Use The Book:  I would use this book to allow students to first identity important people and events of the Civil Rights Movement, but also allow students to put themselves in the characters shoes by asking them about a time they wanted something they could not have. I would ask the students what they thought it would be like to be a protestor?  I would use this personal connection to start talking about peaceful protests, and how African American's who engaged in peaceful protests were able to achieve greatness and ultimately what they wanted. In the back of the book, there is a Civil Rights Timeline which talks about many historical figures that also engaged in peaceful protests in relation to segregation and civil rights. Students can pick a historical figure such as Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Freedom Riders, Mahatma Gandhi, etc., and do research on them and how there peaceful protests ultimately were successful. 


Vegan is Love

Author and Illustrator: Ruby Roth

Grade Level: 2-5 

Buy it here!

Resources










Summary:  
Ruby Roth opens Vegan is Love by defining what it means to be vegan in a way that children can easily understand, "To be vegan means to care deeply about how our choices help or harm animals". Throughout the book, Roth explains how our decisions as human beings affect other living things such as animals. Many human beings love animals, but we harm them because of the lifestyle we choose to live. Roth stresses throughout the book that we need to put our love for animals into action. We have the power to change how the world treats animals. For instance, we can start by avoiding circuses and zoos where animals are held captive rather than living in their natural environments. We can also purchase food and clothing that is not made from animals. Others may notice the decisions we make in our own neighborhoods, and eventually our actions have to opportunity to go global. Roth ultimately leaves the final decision up to the reader at the end of the book. She has taken action by providing us with the information we need to make the decision, but in the end it is up to each and every one of us to choose what we eat and how we want to live.

Element 6 Taking Social Action: 
Vegan is Love educates children to be conscious of the decisions they make in their lives. The author encourages us to consider who or what may be affected by our decisions. Vegan is Love illustrates a lifestyle where we eat animals, use them for clothing, and cage them for the public to view. However, this children's book allows its readers to take a step back, and think if this lifestyle is really worth it. Moreover, is this the way we want to treat other living things? Vegan is Love allows both children and adults to realize that they can make a choice, and take action for a better outcome. Ruby Roth stresses the importance of having a heart when making decisions. The decisions we make are very powerful, and there are many things we can do in order to make the world a more vegan-friendly place. Roth even includes a list of activities to get us started on putting our love for animals into action.

Activity: 
In the book, Ruby Roth includes a page titled "What Else Can We Do?" Here, Roth provides us with a list of activities we can use to take action toward a vegan-friendly world. The list includes activities in grocery stores, schools, pet stores, and even at home. I would definitely provide students with a copy of these activities after reading the book Vegan is Love. If the students are interested in participating in any of these activities they now have the resources available to them. In addition to Roth’s resources, I have created an activity that can put our love for animals into action right in our school. As part of an LAL lesson, the students will be asked to develop persuasive letters requesting a vegan-friendly option in the school cafeteria. We are not demanding that all food sold in the cafeteria be vegan, but we are asking for a vegan option. Students do not have much say in what their guardians purchase from grocery stores; therefore, this activity will allow the students to make a decision on the foods they eat and the lifestyle they want to live in their school community.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Berenstain Bears Don't Pollute (Anymore)

The Berenstain Bears Don't Pollute (Anymore)
Authors and Illustrators: Stan & Jan Berenstain
Grade Level- K-2

Buy it here!
Information about other Berenstain Bear books










Summary: The Berenstain Bears are a family of bears who live in bear country. They learn from the newspaper that their friend, Professor Actual Factual, believes that bear country is in deep trouble from all of the pollution happening. Brother and Sister bear decide to go see Professor Actual Factual, and he takes them on a journey to see the pollution. They see factories polluting the air with black smoke, great bear lake being polluted with garbage, and many other examples of the polluted Earth. Inspired by the pollution and with the help of Professor Actual Factual, the cubs decide to form the "Earthsavers Club" at school to help end pollution. They first make posters and bumper stickers to raise awareness to the issue and then decide hold marches and have community cleanups. Finally, the mayor of Bear Country declares a special holiday called "Earthsavers Day" to help inspire the members of Bear Country to stop polluting and they have a town parade.

Element 6: This book is without a doubt a mixture of both element 5 and element 6 due to the bear cubs also raising awareness with their club, but I think it fits well under element 6 for the main fact that the characters in the story take action in the form of creating the club, coordinating the town cleanups, and getting the mayor of their town to create an "Earthsavers Day". You can teach your students to take action the same way the Berenstain Bears were taught by Professor Actual Factual to take social action. It is also relatable to children because pollution, littering, and recycling are all major issues. They should learn about recycling in school so this is another issue that relates that maybe they could be inspired to take action about. They learn simple ideas in this book that could help them make changes in their community.

How I Would Use the Book: I would start by asking the class if anyone knew what pollution meant. I would have them write their answers on post its and stick them to the board. I would read the book out loud and after the book explains exactly what pollution is, I would ask the students to think about if they have seen any examples of pollution in our neighborhoods. After finishing the story, I would ask the class if they want to form their own "Earthsavers Club". We would brainstorm ideas on a new name for the club and make posters. Finally (school policy permitting), I would take the class on their first Earthsavers club meeting to a local park to clean up any pollution and littering. This Earthsavers club idea could go on for the whole year and extend to things such as recycling in school, conserving water, etc. It is a good way to get the class involved in taking social action.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Social Justice Activist

Title: Social Justice Activist (Get Involved!)
Author: Ellen Rodger and John Eben Field
Art Director: Rosie Gowsell-Pattison
Reading Level: Grades 3-5
Publisher: Crabtree Publishing Company

Buy this book here.

If you like this book, here is another book in the "Get Involved!" series about human rights activism.

Summary: 
This introductory book explores basic human rights and activists that fight to secure those rights for all people. Roger and Field introduce basic concepts like justice and equality as they describe protests spanning from North Carolina to Argentina to Mozambique.    They tackle poverty, homelessness, racism, and gender inequality in a simple yet intelligent manner. The reader becomes familiar with many influential social justice leaders, both well-known and not, and their inspiring words and actions. Lastly, readers learn about humanitarian organizations and how they are changing the world.

Element #6--Taking Social Action:
There are many opportunities in Social Justice Activist for young students to explore and apply their own inner flames towards activism.  The book challenges the reader to put themselves in the shoes of those who are homeless, poor, or face discrimination. Students will be engaged by the many photographs highlighting both young protestors and oppressed children. The authors offer many ways for students to "Get Active!" One simple way is to choose your words to respect others and stand up against hurtful speech. They advise children to become informed about an issue and get organized by forming a social justice club at school. Then, clubs and groups can write letters to politicians, hold penny raffles and bake sales, and tell the media about their plans by writing press releases.

Follow-Up Activity:
Students can pick a social justice issue from the book to learn more about and "Get Active!" There's six humanitarian organizations with contact information listed in the book, so students can look at their websites with a teacher or parent. Once the class has agreed on an issue and an organization,  they can write a press release together, create informative posters about the social justice issue, and hold a fundraiser at their school.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Yes, We Can! Janitor Strikes in LA By Diana Cohn (Element 6)





http://www.cincopuntos.com/files/productsprimary_image_75.jpg

By Jessica Minsky


Summary of book: Carlitos lives in LA with her mother and his abuelita. His mother works the overnight shift as a janitor in an office building in downtown LA. His mom gets home as Carlitos is on his way to school. The mom became tired of constantly working and not being able to provide for her family. The mother and her co-workers decide that they are going to go on strike for better wages. Carlitos wants to help in some way,he talks to his teacher and finds out that there are more students parents who are also involved in the strike. Carlito and his class make signs and join the strike. The class and Carlitos learn that even at a young age you can still make a difference.

Connection to Element 6: Yes, We Can! connects to element 6 because it is about taking a stand on what you believe in.They join the LA Janitor’s Strike. Carlitos, his teacher and his classmates wants better for his mom and their families. He feels the need to help his mom in the cause of getting better wages. He enacts his classes participation, and gets everyone involved in a cause they have a connection to.

How would I use this in the classroom:  I would use this book in multiple ways in a 4th grade classroom. It is culturally unique because it is a bilingual book. I would use it to teach as lesson on making a difference. How if they have strong belief in a cause they rally together and make change. I would show them something like what we watched in class on the protest in Arizona school system and how they shut down the culturally diverse classes. I would ask students to draw connections between the two protests. I challenge them to find a cause that they would stand up and fight for like Carlitos and the students in Arizona. Creating a project that would allow them to stand up and allow the students show their own voice and where their personal concern lies. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Giving Book: Element 6 Taking Social Action

“The Giving Book”                
Written by Ellen Sabin and ________________


Reading level: Ages K-2
Publisher: Watering Can Press

Summary

As you can see by the “fill-in-your-name-here” design on the cover, this book offers the recipient an opportunity to take ownership for defining the world they live in. Beginning with the line for “co-authorship”, this book is designed to engage children in introspective thought about values and virtues and help them see that you can make a difference by caring and giving of oneself. Children can take an active role by including their photo, contributing illustrations, and completing their journal with personal accounts about caring and making a difference, forming intimate connections to philanthropy in action.  Responses include naming those persons who have shown them benevolence, instances in which they have been giving to others, listing what they appreciate in their lives and what they wish for others. Children are also asked about what their own special gifts and talents may be, and how they can use those talents to make the world better or help another person in some way, providing them with a sense of self-worth and empowerment. The format is colorful,  “user-friendly,” and inviting for a child to complete. The book also offers suggestions and resources for the adults that are significant in the life of the child to whom this book is given so that they can guide them and seek ways to help the child take action in the cause of their choice.



Activity
Because this book opens the door to identifying the issues that are meaningful to an individual child, follow-up activities should be based on the specific interests that are shared in the journal entries. A child and caregiver might work together to implement a plan of action that they take to the broader community of neighborhood, school or community.
While the design and approach of this book is centered on a more individual journey into a life of altruism, it could be adapted for use with a classroom of students.  Students can recall and list specific people in their lives that have shown them the meaning of caring and they can also share their wishes for the world in a classroom setting.  Should this be how the book is used, a teacher can work with the class to choose a particular social injustice that is meaningful to the group. Teacher and students can then develop a “take-action” plan focused on the chosen topic of interest.


Elements of Social Injustice

Element 6: Taking Social Action
“The Giving Book” is a great method for children, particularly young elementary school-aged children, to develop an understanding of what social action is all about, to acknowledge empathy in oneself and others, and to think critically about injustices at a rudimentary and age-appropriate level. By introducing young children to the concept that what you do and how you act effects the world around you, the perspectives of the next generation are being shaped in a positive way and the seeds of social activism are being sown. “The Giving Book” is intended to inspire moral thinking and motivate social action in children, and, hopefully, impart the enduring understanding that you can make a difference, be it big or small.

Buy It
• Barnes and Noble - Print
• Scholastic – Print
• Amazon Books – Print

Additional Information
Also worth noting is that this book is one in a series by this author intended to grow children with character. Other topics addressed are special needs, autism, money matters, environmental awareness, and maintenance of a healthy body.
If ordering in larger quantities, (10 or more), Watering Can Press offers a minimum of a 20% discount that increases with the size of the order.


Their website also provides more information about:
• Engaging Activities
• Parties with a Purpose
• Free downloadable guides to implementing social action in youth
• All books in the series available for purchase

The Giving Book

“The Giving Book”                

Written by Ellen Sabin and ________________


Reading level: Ages K-2
Publisher: Watering Can Press

Summary

As you can see by the “fill-in-your-name-here” design on the cover, this book offers the recipient an opportunity to take ownership for defining the world they live in. Beginning with the line for “co-authorship”, this book is designed to engage children in introspective thought about values and virtues and help them see that you can make a difference by caring and giving of oneself. Children can take an active role by including their photo, contributing illustrations, and completing their journal with personal accounts about caring and making a difference, forming intimate connections to philanthropy in action.  Responses include naming those persons who have shown them benevolence, instances in which they have been giving to others, listing what they appreciate in their lives and what they wish for others. Children are also asked about what their own special gifts and talents may be, and how they can use those talents to make the world better or help another person in some way, providing them with a sense of self-worth and empowerment. The format is colorful,  “user-friendly,” and inviting for a child to complete. The book also offers suggestions and resources for the adults that are significant in the life of the child to whom this book is given so that they can guide them and seek ways to help the child take action in the cause of their choice.



Activity
Because this book opens the door to identifying the issues that are meaningful to an individual child, follow-up activities should be based on the specific interests that are shared in the journal entries. A child and caregiver might work together to implement a plan of action that they take to the broader community of neighborhood, school or community.
While the design and approach of this book is centered on a more individual journey into a life of altruism, it could be adapted for use with a classroom of students.  Students can recall and list specific people in their lives that have shown them the meaning of caring and they can also share their wishes for the world in a classroom setting.  Should this be how the book is used, a teacher can work with the class to choose a particular social injustice that is meaningful to the group. Teacher and students can then develop a “take-action” plan focused on the chosen topic of interest.


Elements of Social Injustice

Element 6: Taking Social Action
“The Giving Book” is a great method for children, particularly young elementary school-aged children, to develop an understanding of what social action is all about, to acknowledge empathy in oneself and others, and to think critically about injustices at a rudimentary and age-appropriate level. By introducing young children to the concept that what you do and how you act effects the world around you, the perspectives of the next generation are being shaped in a positive way and the seeds of social activism are being sown. “The Giving Book” is intended to inspire moral thinking and motivate social action in children, and, hopefully, impart the enduring understanding that you can make a difference, be it big or small.

Buy It
• Barnes and Noble - Print
• Scholastic – Print


Additional Information
Also worth noting is that this book is one in a series by this author intended to grow children with character. Other topics addressed are special needs, autism, money matters, environmental awareness, and maintenance of a healthy body.
If ordering in larger quantities, (10 or more), Watering Can Press offers a minimum of a 20% discount that increases with the size of the order.


Their website also provides more information about:
• Engaging Activities
• Parties with a Purpose
• Free downloadable guides to implementing social action in youth

• All books in the series available for purchase

http://www.wateringcanpress.com