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, November 25, 2015

The Curious Garden

Title: The Curious Garden
Author: Peter Brown
Grade level: PreK-3

Liam lived in a very dull city that lacked vegetation. One day, while he was exploring the top of an abandoned railway, he came across a patch of dying flowers. These flowers were in desperate need of a gardener and Liam knew he could help. He watered them and nurtured them back to life. As the weeks went by, the flowers started looking beautiful and happy again. When winter came and covered the flowers with snow, all he could do was prepare for the spring. When the snow finally melted, Liam returned to the flowers and cared for them again. The flowers started to grow uncontrollably and their weeds traveled down the walls of the railway, making their way into people’s yards and around the city. Liam was most surprised to see all the new gardeners that the flowers had brought around his community. Years later, the city was covered with vegetation and pretty flowers. Liam continued to visit his favorite spot where he first found that little patch of dying flowers. 

Element 6: Taking Social Action
This book exemplifies element six because the main character takes part in a social action that ends up positively affecting his whole community. His passion towards gardening and keeping vegetation alive ends up spreading flowers across the entire city. What makes him the happiest is seeing all the new gardeners (the people living in his community) outside, nurturing the flowers in their yards as well. The city went from being dull and colorless to lively and beautiful thanks to Liam and his social action of making the community a greener place.

To expand upon Liam’s social action, I will finish the lesson with a fun before/after activity. I will distribute worksheets that have two squares side-by-side on them, the left square labeled “Before” and the right square labeled “After.” I will ask students to draw a picture of what the city looked like before (left square) and after (right square) Liam found the patch of flowers on the railway. Students will be able to color their drawings while discussing what they drew with the people sitting around them. Students will also write a sentence or two underneath their pictures explaining what they have drawn.

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