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, December 2, 2014

Uncle Wille and the Soup Kitchen

Author: Dyanne Disalvo-Ryan

Illustrated by: Mira Reisberg

Grade level: 2-5

Element 6: Taking Social Action

Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen is the story of a young boy's uncle who volunteers at a city community soup kitchen everyday.  Uncle Willie teaches the young boy the importance of soup kitchens for many people throughout the city on a daily basis. When the boy visits the community soup kitchen, he learns about the people who come to it, their struggles, and many of the reasons why people seek food from soup kitchens, even if they are not homeless. They boy encounters the kind interactions between the staff and the people who come to the soup kitchen. Uncle Willie talks about the problem hunger and homelessness are in the community. This story manages to keep a simple, yet interesting description of what the boy encounters, without overwhelming readers. It is also a friendly way of teaching serious social problems like hunger and homelessness without being frightening to readers. Finally, there is a great sense of acceptance, as the story is written in a very nonjudgmental tone. 

Element 6: Taking Social Action
Disalvo-Ryan does a great job in demonstrating issues prominent in Element 6: Taking Social Justice in her story, Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen. The story is told through a hands-on approach to helping others and becoming active members of a community. The first pages of this story are narrated by the boy and his lack of understanding of why his uncle works at the soup kitchen or why people go there. By allowing his nephew to visit and volunteer at the soup kitchen, Uncle Willie teaches him the importance of taking social action. The author also prefaces the story by providing statistics of homelessness and hunger in the United States. It is important for teachers to note how other elements of social justice are reflected within this text, such as respect for others and raising social awareness. 

This is a great story to use as an introduction to a lesson or unit on serving others, helping the community, and taking social action. Before reading, the teacher could ask their students, "Where do you think people who are homeless go for food?". This will most likely be followed by many different answers. As a large group, the class can discuss their answers and record what they think they know on a KWL chart or some sort of graphic organizer. Students can also create a word wall with the new vocabulary they will have learned from this story, (e.g. soup kitchen, homelessness, poverty, shelter, community, etc.) The class can also discuss the different ways they can help the problem of hunger in their community. If students are too young to volunteer, the class can begin a food drive in which everyone who would like to donate to a homeless shelter, can bring canned goods or non-perishable foods into class.

No comments:

Post a Comment