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, April 25, 2016
Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers Strike of 1909
By: Michelle Markel
Pictures by: Melissa Sweet
Grade Level: 3-5
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Clara came to America with high hopes and excitement towards her new life. However, she quickly realized that her father would not get hired anywhere so Clara took a job in the garment industry. She soon learns that the working conditions are unfair and unethical. Clara never quit, she went to school at night, she spent her time studying English and she never stopped fighting for women's rights in the workplace. Clara organized the Shirtwaist Makers Strike of 1909 and showed young and old women everywhere to never give up and never stop fighting. This is a story about taking action for what is right.
Element 6: Taking Social Action:
I believe that this book is element six because it is a perfect example of taking a stand and taking action against something that needs to be changed. Clara shows an excellent example of how to take a stand and stand up for what is right. She was able to change the garment industry and form unions. This is a strong message to children to never give up, never stop fighting, and stand up for what is right.
One activity the students can do with this book is to have students split into groups and come up with their own picket signs for the strike that Clara had for the shirtwaist factory. Then as a class we can brainstorm something they feel needs to be changed within either their lives or their school and set a plan to create change. Once the students have come up with a plan, the students can use it to inform other people and then take social action to create change.