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.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Name Jar

The Name Jar

Title: The Name Jar 
Author and Illustrator: Yangsook Choi
Grade level: K-3 
Element #2: Respect for Others

Summary: Unhei and her family recently moved from Korea to America. On the way to the first day of school, Unhei was uncomfortable with the kids on the bus pronouncing her name. When she arrived at school she decided to hold off on telling the other kids her real name because it was hard to pronounce. The next day she finds a jar on her desk filled with little pieces of paper with names on them from her classmates. She soon becomes comfortable to the point where she can show her name stamp her grandmother gave her to a classmate, Joey. The respect and friendship from this classmate gave Unhei the courage to respect her own name and share it with the rest of the class. The class enjoyed learning how to say her name and respected it while sharing some meanings of their own names.

Element 2 teaches respect for others. Unhei is connected to her culture even while in America. Being able to respect herself and her name, she is also able to teach the rest of her classmates the meaning of her name. Her classmates show respect to Unhei when she does not want to share her name on the first day and they continue to respect her and her culture when they learn her real name and the meaning behind it. Also, Joey didn’t share her name until she was comfortable saying it herself. All her classmates practiced saying her name and are glad she shared it. The teacher points out that American names have meanings too, just like Korean names. This shows that the students can relate and practice empathy and respect within the classroom.

Activity: This book can be read to a second grade classroom. You could read the book to the class and have the students go home to ask their parents the meaning of their name or how they got their name. Then, in class they can write the meaning or reason behind their name on a paper and place it in a jar. The teacher could pull random papers out and read them out loud while the class tries to guess the student. When the student is identified, they can explain what they wrote. Later, the students can write a short description of their name and/or reason and draw pictures. These can then be displayed around the room.

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