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.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

This is New York

This is New York

Title: This is New York
Author: M. Sasek
Illustrator M. Sasek
Grade level: 4th to 5th

Buy - This is New York

Element 1: Self-love and knowledge

Summary:  It’s hard not to be instantly charmed by the detailed illustrations of one of the biggest most vibrant cities in the world. This is New York is the melting pot of children’s literature. It’s a dedication to the lives around us and the people who share it everyday. Every city-goer is celebrated with wonder and curiosity. Each structure that has been meticulously crafted over years is given praise (of the highest degree)! The smattering of cultures are all given a chance to shine in This is New York, along with their unique shops, foods, and traditions. This is a book of life, where every reader can grab something new!

SJE Element 1:

M. Laskek gives every student a real reason to feel good about themself. He paints New York as a city with great sights and better people. He brings to light the importance of culture and how it shapes the relationships we build. These relationships are reliant on the celebration of self-identity and the love of where we come from. In This is New York every student can find an accurate reflection of themselves. Whether it's what food they enjoy, what sports they watch enthusiastically or even how they spend their summers. Instead of giving a voice to one particular culture This is New York gives a voice to an immaculate city. That voice is built from a foundation of hard workers and culturally rich citizens. It is the strength of this voice that can bring light to the importance of self-love and knowledge of the self and the ones around you.

Classroom ideas:

  • Making your own book with the city you live in.
    • There are many ways to incorporate the style of this book into a rich and engaging lesson. One of the most obvious examples is for a classroom to create their own book. Each student can either write, draw, use photography, or any other creative way. The purpose behind this lesson is for the students to make their contribution personal and ultimately a reflection of their experience with their particular city or town. 

  • Breaking the book down in what is meaningful to your students.
    • One of my favorite parts of This is New York is its array of topics it covers. For example, it covers the history of New York City but also covers art museums such as The Guggenheim. With all of this information, a teacher can really pin point what is important to their students and use it to build conversation and ultimately social identity. I feel that by really unpacking the literature, an educator could really begin to instill element one in their students. 

  • Creating a new city that the students see as important to them for the future.
    • Though This is New York covers a lot of different topics and aspects of life, it was written a few decades ago. Here a teacher can create new chapters about whats important to their students. For example, This is New York doesn't really delve into Latin culture or Arabic culture. This presents opportunity for an educator and their classroom! Not only can the class learn more about their fellow classmate's culture but they can really begin to appreciate and embrace diversity. Also, the students who share and speak about their cultural identities can becomes teachers and this can have a profound impact on their self-love and knowledge. Therefore building a strong foundation for the future elements to come! 
For the future

This is New York can create many wonderful learning moments in a classroom. The book is rich in ideas and history. M. Sasek has created many of these types of books and one of the most interesting is This is Paris. Linked below is a website that expands on the ways in which This is Paris can be used in an elementary classroom. 

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