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, September 9, 2008

The Streets Are Free

The Streets are Free

The Streets are Free
Story byKurusa
Illustrated by Monika Doppert
Translated by Karen Englander
This is the story of the children of the Venezuelan barrio of San Jose. It is the story of their protest to get a place to play.
This book can be used in all elementary grades- the only difference would be the complexity of the conversations that followed the reading.
Suggested topics for discussion: equity (is it fair that the children have no place to play?); urban development (what does it mean, what effects does it have on space and the community etc); politics and "the system" (how do the students use the system, why does the mayor forget about their project after elections are over?);empowerment- even though they are children they are able to organize and fight for their rights and affect change.
This book can be used specifically to teach reading strategies (empathizing, questioning, empathizing) it can be used as a provocative text to encourage writing and it can also be used as part of social studies units on various topics. PS I just discovered that there is a teachers guide for this book as well (although I cannot vouch for it as I have only seen it online)

Something Beautiful

Something Beautiful

Title: Something Beautiful

Author: Sharon Dennis Wyeth

This book, in my ,is a wonderful book that has the potential to leave students aware of the negative social situations that are evident in the community and how to change those situations as well. In this story there is a little girl that describes the different scenes of vandalism, homelessness, and danger in her neighborhood. The girl learns about the defintion of the word beautiful and that each person should have something beautiful in life. With htis in mind the little girl questions members of their community on what is beautiful to them, and finds that everyone has something they treasure for a different reason. In the end the girl decides that she will clean up her neighborhood as a start of making the world beautiful.

Social Justice: I feel that this book fits stages 4 and 5 of the Social Justice track.

Harlem Stomp!

Harlem Stomp: A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance
By: Laban Carrick Hill

This is a non-fiction resource book. It is a compilation of texts on the Harlem Renaissance. It does not have to be read cover to cover, but can also be enjoyed in segments. It calls readers to think about this time period in American, and NYC history. 

How I would use this:
This sheds light upon a very important question. This book asks, why it was necessary for there to be a Harlem Renaissance. Why was it a big deal that people from Harlem were creating wonderful things? This shouldn’t have been surprising, it should have been assumed that people from Harlem, just like all other people, would be creating stunning work. Through these questions a teacher can include this work in a studies ranging from slavery to contemporary race relations in the US. This book can be used for older grades, but can also be adapted and segmented to fit the needs of younger children. Teachers should use caution when utilizing this work, due to the fact that much of the material inside is sensitive and often not censored. 


Social Justice Education:
I feel as if this book is an example of level four, Social Movements and Social Change. It discusses the Harlem Renaissance and provides students with the ability to access this time period.

*Posted for: Valerie Bracco*

I See the Rhythm



"I See The Rhythm" is a very rich book with beautiful illustrations on the history of African American music. It goes into great detail how music has evolved over the past 500 years; from early 1500's to present day. Additionally, NYC's legendary Savoy Ballroom, the Apollo Theater, and the Cotton Club are given special focus.


This is a Wonderful book that provides the history of African American music alongside with information and dates of what has transpired historically. Igus makes it easy to connect history to each musical era.

Activity in Social Studies:

Students can work with maps of Africa and the U.S. and show how blacks originated in Africa and migrated to the U.S. They can then begin to connect the different musical eras that have evolved:
Slave Songs, Blues, Ragtime, Jazz, Swing, BeBop, Gospel, R&B, Rock-n-Roll, Funk, and Rap/Hip Hop.

Social Justice Education:

Students will learn self-love and acceptance as they learn about their own culture; respect for others as they learn about other cultures; exploring issues of social justice as racism, sexism, and classism are confronted; social movements and social change show how people have struggled for social change; and taking social action- students will understand how music has worked towards a non-violent social change.

Dinner at Aunt Connie's House

Friday, March 9, 2007

Dinner at Aunt Connie's House BY Faith Ringgold
This is a story about a young girl named Melody who goes to her aunt Connie’s house every summer for dinner and a special showing of her aunt’s artwork. Melody meets Aunt Connie’s adopted son Lonnie and they play hide and seek, in the house, before dinner. While playing hide and seek, they find Aunt Connie’s portraits of African American Women who have made great contributions to American History. The portraits talk to Melody and Lonnie; they tell both of them about their lives and how they contributed to American History. This book is great because it gives a brief description of these women and you can see how they look. This good contains a lot of valuable information that used in many different ways in the classroom.

This book can be utilized in the classroom by having students draw their own self portraits and write their own description of themselves. They can write about what contributions they made. This book could also be used as a starting point for research papers. Students could pick one woman they want to learn more about and they can research and make a presentation to the class. The students could even do a skit and act like the women they are researching. They could even act a dinner scene in which they students are portraying the women in this book. The students could also write something that they would want their portrait to say 50 years from now. How do they want to change the world? What do they want to be known for? The first woman to do… The first man to do… Being that the book was inspired by a quilt; the class can make a quilt out of their own portraits.

This book addresses all the stages of Social Justice Education.

We Dream of a World

We Dream of a World

Title: We Dream of a World...
Authors: Scholastic; Classroom of students from University City, Missouri

This book is made by a classroom of students and dedicates a page to each social justice issue they wanted to focus on. Each page/topic includes facts and a few ideas of what we can do to help this issue. Some of the issues include hunger, homelessness, education, pollution and peace. This is a great way to not only introduce many topics of social justice to your class, but also to show them that kids can make a difference.

I would use this book to introduce and incorporate social justice themes into my classroom by reading a page/issue biweekly. This would give them a chance to brainstorm ideas of how they could help. They would then be encouraged to write letters, educate their peers, or incorporate other ideas and activities to take social action. This book could be incorporated into thematic units, or integrated into multiple areas such as literacy, math, or science and health. An example would be to look into a nutrition unit and encourage the school to sell healthier snacks in the lunchroom by writing letters to the school board.

This book covers three levels of social justice education. 3 because it shows issues of social injustice; 4 because it suggests ways for social change; and 5 because it encourages the opportunity to make a difference.

Fire at the Triangle Factory

Fire at the Triangle Factory by Holly Littlefield

Fire at the Triangle Factory by Holly Littlefield

Available for Purchase at: Amazon

Summary: This book is about two 14-year-old girls, Minnie a Jewish girl and Tessa an Italian Catholic girl, seamstress coworkers in a crowded work factory on the upper floors of a building in Greenwich Village (Now the Silver building on NYU’s campus) in 1911. One day a fire breaks out in the factory, resulting in the deaths of 146 workers. The book tells the story of the two girls struggle for survival. This historic event in history changed the labor laws and safety codes for the future generations.

My Opinion: I love this story because it tells a story of child labor, religious differences, and overlooked labor laws. It is a story of tragedy that results in social change. It also is very relevant for children in New York City because it tells of specific landmarks and communities that the children live in today.

Possible Topics: You could use this book for numerous lessons and unit studies! It covers topics of labor laws and how they were neglected and obscure before the fires. It covers child labor. It discusses the importance of safety and evacuation plans. It discusses the life of immigration work and New York City. It also talks about the religious differences and family opposition among the Catholics and Jewish communities of the early 20th century.

Lessons in literacy/ social studies:
· The students can role-play and write a letter from one of the girls’ perspective to the other girls’ perspective telling about why they think their parents dislike each other.
· Write diary entries from the girls’ perspective about the daily life in the factory or the day of the fire
· Write letters to the government officials to make labor laws stricter and enforced
Lessons in math/social studies:
· The students can research and calculate how much money the workers made at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory
· The students can calculate the ratio of how many people died in the fire and how many people were working there.
Lessons in Science/social studies:
· The students can research how the fire began and what caused the fire.
· What made the fire spread so rapidly?
· Brainstorm solutions and preventions that could have been enforced to prevent the fire.



Written and Illustrated by Peter Spier

People is an excellent book to use in the classroom to expose students to the differences in people from around the world. Spier's book sends the message that everyone has the right to be different and that people should be proud of their differences. Spier examines an array of characteristics that make human beings unique. His words and illustrations show the differences in physical traits (body size, skin color, eye color, hair style), clothing styles, interests, dwellings, holidays, foods, religions, and languages of individuals from many cultures. At the end of the book, Spier asks the reader to imagine how dull the world would be if everybody looked, thought, ate, dressed, and acted the same. This book makes you think about how wonderful it is that each one of us is unlike any other.

Anne Marie and Bree pointed out one area to watch out for: towards the end of the book, Spier writes about the different kinds of leaders. We noticed that the illustrations for this page are all of white males. When using this book in the classroom, it might be beneficial to discuss this or to skip the page entirely.

I think this book touches on the first three levels of social justice. When reading this book, children and adults consider their own cultures. They also learn about cultures that are different than their own. Spier helps his readers realize the importance of differences in the world.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

This book is a "heart-warmer" about a little girl named Molly Lou who is smaller than all the other children her age. Her character is developed after she moves to a different town. She always remembers what her grandmother told her and is able to battle the bullies.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon would be useful in the younger grades as it has very simple language and bold pictures. This would be good for character development lessons and the theme of being proud of who you are. It also is a good example of how we need to to accept people who are different than us. Some possible lesson ideas would be to have children compare the situations from the book to things that have happened to them. Another idea would be to use this as one book in a character study unit. Students could record aspects of Molly Lou and what makes her who she is.

This book does not reach all of the levels of social justice education. It clearly touches on self-love and acceptance as she is constantly reminded that she can do what everyone else can do. It is also able to be incorporated into the "respect for others" category because the bully Ronald learns to accept Molly Lou for who she is.

Some useful links:

Josephine's 'magination

Josephine's 'magination by Arnold Dobrin

This is a great book for teaching multi cultural education. I chose this book for a couple reasons. One thing I really liked about this book is that it doesn't hit you over the head with the multi cultural content. What I mean by this is there is no racism or injustice really in the book. Instead the author chooses to tell a story of a young Haitian girl who accompanies her mother to the market one day to sell brooms, where she meets an older man who explains to her that she can make new things out of old stuff using her imagination. The illustrations are vivid, alternating between color and black and white, and the book would be appropriate for K-3rd grade, however it is not a short book, with about half text/half pictures for every 2 page spread.

The multi-cultural content comes from the book taking place in a poor neighborhood on Haiti, a country i assume most young urban students are not familiar with. Students learn about different cultures and people and there is also a bit of self love and acceptance in regards to the character of Josephine. (she learns she can have fun and make toys even though she has no money to buy anything, accepting her situation and making the best of it) I would use this book as an opportunity to introduce Haiti and Haitians to students. Where is Haiti? What continent is it located on? What is the weather like there? Can we determine any of this from the illustrations or how the people dress? What language do they speak in Haiti? (French) Why do they speak French? (Haiti was a French colony as well as many other North African states)What's a colony? etc. you get the idea. Any number of engaging and enlightening questions could be asked. For more advanced or older students you could have them do their own research and investigations into the Haitian people, culture, and history. One must keep in mind however to prepare students with adequate research skills and strategies before assigning such an activity.

A New Barker in the House

A New Barker in the House

Author: Tomie DePaola

Summary: This is the story of an English speaking family that adopts a Spanish speaking child. At first, the English children have a difficult time understanding their new brother and try to force their ways upon him. Eventually, the English family members begin to learn Spanish and the baby learns English.

Social Justice Education: This book deals with self-love and acceptance, and respect and tolerance for others.

Lessons and activities: I chose this book because it could encourage children to embrace languages in addition to English. Whether this meant that children would retain and be proud of their native language or encourage them to learn a different language it would be meaningful. I think this book could be a good introduction of the benefits of learning and speaking another language. The book is best suited for younger grades.

Angel Child, Dragon Child

Angel Child, Dragon Child

Angel Child, Dragon ChildBy: Michele Maria Surat

This story is about a Vietnamese child, Nguyen Hoa, who was trying to adjust to life in the USA. Nguyen was also called “Ut”. When Ut first started school she was ridiculed by the other kids because she was different than them. She wore traditional clothing, which the students thought looked like pajamas and she did not speak much English. Ut carried a box around with her which had a picture of her mother. Ut missed her mother very much but her family did not have money to bring her to the U.S when they came so she was still in Vietnam. Ut made a friend at school and he helped her raise money by holding a school Vietnamese fair. Her mother was able to migrate to the U.S.

I would definitely recommend this book because I feel many people could relate to it. So many families migrate to the U.S in hopes of a better life for themselves and their children and adjusting to this new lifestyle can be so difficult. Their children can experience a rough time getting through school because of factors like a language barrier. This book does a great job of showing that it is not okay to judge someone by their appearance. People should accept or embrace one another’s culture and learn from one another. It’s a great read aloud and a great book to use in a social studies unit about the Vietnam War. You can integrate Social Studies, Geography, and Writing. Furthermore, this book touches on all five domains of social justice: self love and acceptance, respect for others, taking action, social issues, etc.

Poetry for Young People, Langston Hughes

Poetry for Young People, Langston Hughes

I was originally going to post for "The Little Prince" but I couldn't once I found this book in the school library. This is a collection of poems that addresses every level of the social justice curriculum. Self love and acceptance is addressed in "My People", acceptance of others is addressed in "Harlem", social movements is addressed in "Words Like Freedom" and "I Dream A World". There are poems of African history, about slave drums and jazz beats, about Jim Crow laws and segregation. Students who read these poems, will be exposed to language that is beautiful and descriptive as well as being exposed to African American History. Their are so many wonderful experiences students can have as a result to reading this poetry. They can create their own poetry and illustrations to create a class book of their own, students may also be inspiried to learn more about the actual history to go a long with the history that is described in the poems. As New York City school teachers, we may feel pressure to teach the "Teachers College" version of literacy, this will be a great resourse to teach poetry and all the levels of social justice at the same time.

I Love Saturdays y domingos

I Love Saturdays y Domingos

I Love Saturdays y domingos, by Alma Flor Ada, is about a young girl who spends the weekends with her grandparents. Saturdays are spent with her English-speaking paternal grandparents, and Sundays are spent with her Spanish-speaking maternal grandparents. She explains how she celebrates both English and Spanish culture by engaging in various activities with each set of grandparents. The girl uses Spanish words when talking about what she does with her Spanish-speaking grandparents, but the words are easily identified in context.

This book can be used to teach several lessons. It can be used to teach students basic Spanish words or to teach them about Spanish culture. Teachers can also use the book to show students how it is possible to celebrate different cultures and traditions. Students can then explain the different ways in which they celebrate different cultures.

The book addresses social justice levels 1 and 2. It teaches students to appreciate their own cultures, as well as diversity and the cultures of others.



Title: Weslandia
By: Paul Fleischman

This is a very funny story about a very creative boy who just doesn't quite fit in at school or at home. Wesley, the main character, is an outcast from the civilization around him so he decides to devote his summer to a wonderful project- creating a new civilization. He starts his project by planting his own staple food crop. Soon his seeds turn into a magical world. Wesley moves into this beautiful new civilization and survives on the fruits and veggies produced by the seeds that he planted. Using all natural products from his garden Wesley is able to weave himself new clothes, ones that are much cooler and more comfortable then the jeans and t-shirts everyone else is wearing. Soon all the children that used to make fun of him are curious about Wesley's "summer project" and want to see what his civilization is all about. Wesley realizes that his civilization would benefit from the help of others and he invites his schoolmates in. The other students also gain an appreciation for Wesley and admire and praise him for his talent and creativeness.

Lesson Ideas:
There are many topics that could be taught as a follow up to this read aloud. This could be the start of a fiction writing unit where students can create there own "civilizations". The unit could be _____landia and the students names would go on the line. They could use this book to help them get idea's about a creating a land where they can chose what clothes they wear, what language they speak, what food they eat, etc. This book could also be used in a unit about planting. For younger grades studying the life cycle of plants they could talk about the stages that the plants in the book went through and all the different purposes that the plants served. This book could also be used on a unit about the importance of being yourself, and how it's okay to be different. Students learn from Wesley that it's okay to embrace your differences and not follow what everyone else is doing. This book can also be used for a lesson where you want students to notice change in a character over time. In the beginning of the book Wesley is sad, and depressed because he has no friends and doesn't fit in, and by the end of the book Wesley comes out of his shell and has a much improved morale.


Social Justice:
1. Self love and acceptance
2. Respect for others
Touches on #3. Issues of Social Justice- bullying

Korean Children's Day

Korean Children's Day

Summary: Korean Children's Day is a story about how Mrs. Carnie's 4th-grade class became the Tae Kwon Do champions of Raymond Elementary School. Young Soo Newton, is an adopted boy from Korea who lives in America with his family. He takes Saturday classes at the Korean Institute because his adopted parents want to make sure he never forgets about Korea and his Korean heritage/traditions. He decides to bring his friend Jeremy along one Saturday, because they are celebrating Korean Children's Day. Jeremy, as well as the reader, learn about Korean Children's Day and Korean culture/traditions. In the end, Jeremy is so takenaway with Tae Kwon Do that he suggests to Young Soo Newton that their whole class at school should partake in this tradition. In the end, Mrs. Carnie's class becomes Tae Kwon Do champions of Raymond Elementary School.

Reflections: This was a great book because it shows how people can appreciate, learn, and participate in the traditions of another culture. It shows cultural appreciation not only on the intercultural level, but also on the level of adoption and identity. The fact that Young Soo was an adopted child from Korea makes the story more real. His parents make an effort and show appreciation to their child's country of origin. Often when children are adopted they are forced to assimilate with the culture of their adopted parents and forget where they came from. The illustrations are done in what appears to be colored pencil, which is interesting and different.

How would I use the book/curriculum units: This book would work well with a discussion on appreciating cultures and traditions. It could be used along side a curriculum on cultures and traditions of students in the classroom. Having students listen to this story and then share their own cultures and traditions is one idea. In addition, encouraging students to actually perform some traditions, or wear traditional clothing, or eat traditional food from all the cultures of the students in the class could also be a good activity. In additon, if you type in "Korean Children's Day" on Yahoo or Google you will find a bunch of lesson plans and ideas for this Korean tradition.

Domains of Social Justice: 1) Domains of self-love and acceptance: Students learn to love themeselves for who they are. In this case, Young Soo appreciates his Korean heritage and continues to practice and learn about his country of origin. 2) Respect for Others: Students learn to appreciate and learn about the cultures and traditions of others. 4) Social Movements and Social Change:Students learn that they can take a proactive approach to learning about other people's cultures and appreciating those cultures. Taking Social Action: Students learn how they can encourage other people (ex. Mrs. Carnie's 4th-grade class) to appreciate and participate in learning about the cultures of others.

The People Could Fly

The People Could Fly

Title: The People Could Fly
Author: Virginia Hamilton
Illustrators: Leo and Diane Dillon

Summary: .
"The People Could Fly," is a fantasy tale that tells of how some enslaved Africans had wings and could fly. In order for them to escape the abuses of slavery, they began to sing some ancient African magic words. This allowed their bodies to lift into the sky and fly away to freedom.
This would be a great book to use for Social Studies. Lessons could be taught on how the Africans were taken from their homeland and put on slave ships and brought to new lands as slaves. I also think that this book could be used for a performance in Drama. I would have students create costumes with wings, and have them re-enact the story. .
Social Justice Education:
This book covers all 5 areas of social justice. Students can learn to love and accept themselves and their roots, while others can respect their differences. Students will learn the forms of oppression of slavery and racism, and how they can use books like this to create non-violent social change. Additionally, students can take social action to protect people's rights.

Peace Crane

Peace Crane

Author: Sheila Hamanaka

Summary: A girl questions the world for a chance at peace, "for a world without borders, of a world without guns, of a world that loves its children". As crane's are a symbol of long life in Japan, the girl in the book sends her paper crane throughout the world and remembers the good she has seen in the world, along with the bad. This story is based onSadako Sasaki's belief that if you fold a thousand paper cranes, you will be granted your wish for health. The story gives a brief history of the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan and Sadako's story.

Reflection: The book has beautiful illustrations that are coupled with poetic lines and verse that tell this story. We follow the journey of a peace crane throughout the book and see wherever it goes peace or health is restored. Yes, this sounds mythic and optimistic, but I think the book sends a message of hope for children who are constantly questioning their world. This book tries to inspire children to take initiative and make a change in their environment.

  1. This would be a good book to couple learning about the history of war, such as WWII, or the history of Japan, or learning about unfairness and violence in the world.
  2. Students can think about their injustices in their communities and make a list. A discussion can follow asking how students can make social change about these injustices. Students can write their idea for social change on a piece of paper and will make a paper crane out of it. The cranes will hang in the classroom to remind students of their ideas, and the teacher can facilitate helping children take action.
  3. The book can be used to integrate social studies and poetry. The book has wonderful poetic lines, and is presented in poetic verse. It is a great example of description in writing.
Social Justice Curriculum: This book focuses on stages 1, 2, 3, and 5.

What Zeesie Saw on Delancey Street

What Zeesie Saw on Delancey Street

-by Elsa Okon Rael and Marjorie Priceman

This beautiful book is a story about a 7-year-old girl named Zeesie who is allowed to accompany her parents to a 'package party' in the early 1900s. Taking place on the famed Lower East Side of New York City, we are able to gather information about certain aspects of life some Jewish immigrants faced as they began their lives as citizens in this country.

This book has a unique approach to showing life as an immigrant in that it does not expressly call them immigrants, nor does it make obvious the point that the people in this story are struggling or poor. In fact, the setting is a party and for everyone else attending, it is just that.

The book leaves behind the simple 'Jewish people surviving' facade and takes on a more universal appeal when Zeesie sneaks into a room that only the men are allowed to go into. The Money Room is so named because all of the men go into it one at a time, and either leave spare money they have, or take any they need to help feed their families. The book does a beautiful job showing how this community, and others like it, come together to support one another and ensure success. It is an example of human beings reaching out to others in need, something all communities do, immigrant or not. When Zeesie realizes the power of the room, she leaves the dollar she has saved up, knowing that she is helping another person, even though they will not know she directly helped, and that she can no longer afford to go to the movie theater as she planned. She knows the dollar is better spent in that room.

This book would be great for units on immigration, because it tells a different side of immigrant life we don't often hear about. It could also help with a unit about New York's olden days, and also for a unit on friendship and/or tolerance.

As far as social justice education, this book achieves levels 2, 3, and 5. They can use Zeesie's selfless act to begin figuring out ways they too can better their own communities and the community at large. They can do this in many ways besides monetarily, striving to really fix the problems they see rather than just slapping a band-aid over.

**Posted by Emily, Valerie, and Amanda S.**



Book: Seedfolks
Author: Paul Fleischman
Summary: This story is about a vacant lot that is turned into a garden. In this neighborhood there is a vacant lot that is rat infested and filled with garbage, but one day a young Vietnamese girl named Kim decides to plant lima beans in the vacant lot. As the neighbors watch her as she plants her lima beans they become curious about what she is doing and decide to make use of the garden as well. The story is not told from the perspective of a single character, but in a series of vignettes written from a first-person perspective of a very diverse group of characters. Some of the characters are young, some are old; some are new to America, some were born there. They all have their own reasons for coming to the garden and the significance it takes on for each of them is very different. Despite prejudices, hesitancies, and language differences, the estranged neighbors begin to find ways of overlooking these barriers to develop new relationships with each other. Before long the multiethnic seedfolks have developed a sense of pride and fellowship. The distinct voices of each character show the reader the vast differences and similarities that can exist simultaneously among diverse people, and how these differences can actually help those people form a community as vibrant and rich as the garden they have created.
Reflections: I really enjoyed this book because it truly takes on multi-perspectives of how different people perceive and make use of the same shared space. I would definitely use it in my classroom because there is so much you can do with it. It can also be easily integrated into the various subjects. I love how the story is told from so many different peoples perspective, instead of just one character’s perspective. I think telling the story from different perspectives sends a much more powerful message about how although people are different we all innately share a common thing which is are humanity. The story authentically gives multi perspectives by telling the story in vignettes of thirteen different characters. I love how each of the characters are very different and represent people all over the spectrum.
I would be very careful about the age group I would use this with. It does touch on some heavy topics like, teen pregnancy and marijuana, but this shouldn’t be a reason to not use it, just be prepared and think about how you are going to talk about such topics in your classroom.
How would I use the book/ curriculum units: This book is great because you can easily integrate it into so many subjects. I would probably use in many ways one way would be a character study because the story is broken up into different characters. The character study then leads it self to a social studies lesson/unit. I would then probably have the student’s research each characters cultural back round and teach the class about each as a social studies unit. You could also have them really develop their characters by doing art projects like the ones we have been doing in class. I would probably also incorporate drama by having students become the characters in the story and acting it out. I would then incorporate Science by having the students learn about the different seeds and plants. I would have the students create our own classroom garden based on our own Seedfolk story. Therefore I would have the kids write their own vignette and what seeds they would bring to our garden and why. I would then have them physical plant a class garden. I would also encourage them to think about a place that like a park that isn’t so pretty and to think about how we can do something about it.
Domains of Social Justice1) Domains of self-love and acceptance: Students learn to love themselves for who they are. In this story many different cultures are embraced and talked about. While some characters in the story have a lot more pride about who they are and their cultural back round. You can have your students identify with their culture and discuss one thing they are proud of that belongs to their culture and is strongly a apart of who they are. They learn that their culture is one of the many seeds and foundations for who they are today.
2) Respect for Others: Students will understand that just because people share the same space doesn’t mean they see it the same and even though people don’t see it exactly the same it doesn’t make their perspective less valuable or less important. As we see in the story each character initially uses the garden for their own purposes they soon find that the garden is much more than just their own and they respect the others in the community for being part of the garden. They are able to understand that despite our differences it is still a space we must share therefore we should learn to respect one another so our space can be a garden not a vacant lot.
3.) Exploring Issues of Social Justice: This story allows students to explore many topics such as racism, classism, and sexism because the characters in the story hold stereotypes and prejudices towards the other characters. These stereotypes and prejudices toward one another are expressed by many of the characters in the story. For example the character Anna, whom is an older white women, believes that Gonzalo who is Guatemala is using the garden to plant marijuana so he can sell drugs because according to Anna that is what those people do.
4.) Social Movements and Social Change: Students learn to appreciate other people and have a better understanding for why people act or see things differently. Students will understand that there are multi perspectives to looking at something.
5) Taking Social Action: Students will take action by thinking about a place in their community that isn’t so pretty or that maybe is vacant and what they can do to change that.

Halmoni and the Picnic

Halmoni and the Picnic

Halmoni and the Picnic
Author: Sook Nyul Choi
Illustrated by: Karen Dugan
Age Range: 5-8 years
Grade Range- Grades K-3

Summary: In this story, Halmoni and the Picnic, Halmoni (Korean word for 'grandma') is a Korean immigrant grandmother who goes on a trip with her granddaughter's class for the first time. Yunmi is afraid her Korean grandmother will never feel comfortable in the United States. She is too embarrassed to speak English and she finds the customs confusing. Even Yunmi's good-natured friends want to help Halmoni adjust. So when their teacher asks for a chaperone for a class picnic, Yunmi's friends volunteer Halmoni. Halmoni is thrilled and honored that the children asked for her. She even prepares a special picnic snack - kimbop (Korean sushi?? it's really tasty!!) and cold barley tea. But suddenly Yunmi feels apprehensive. Perhaps the other kids will think Halmoni is foreign and strange. They may not want to eat the unfamiliar kimbop. But Yunmi's worries prove to be unwarranted. Everyone enjoys Halmoni's delicious snack, and they even learn some Korean words. In turn, Halmoni says a few words in English. It is a realistic and charming immigrant story.

Reflections: I mainly chose this book because it shows the life of a Korean immigrant who moved to the United States. It's rare to find books on Korean-Americans, and it was something I could relate to on a personal level since both my parents are immigrants from Korea. I was able to empathize with the characters in this book and relate to the fears the little girl had. It was a really great book that teaches all readers about the traditions and culture of a different country. The illustrations were done in pencil and watercolor and they were accurate in their detail; such as the drawings of Halmoni's tradition Korean dress (known as a 'hanbok').

How would I use the book/curriculum units: This book can help introduce the student's own culture or traditions with other children in the class. There can be a unit study on different cultures where children can share where they're coming from. Having students bring in a special dish from their culture or family to share with the class or school. Sharing food is another way of actually experiencing the specific culture. This can be a great way of community building and appreciating the different cultures out there. Children can write storybooks about their own family. This can be another way of opening up discussion about different families, and how no one is the same.

Domains of Social Justice: 1) Domains of self-love and acceptance: Yunmi learns to appreciate and be proud of her Halmoni. She is no longer embarrassed about her Korean culture and traditions. Halmoni also feels grateful that she is appreciated amongst Yunmi's peers. She feels more at ease and is happy being in this new country. 2) Respect for Others: Yunmi, students, and Halmoni learn to appreciate and learn more about the culture and traditions of others. 4) Social Movements and Social Change: Students learn about the different food, clothing, and language that Halmoni grew up with. The students encouraged Halmoni to come to the picnic trip so they could get her to feel more comfortable. 5)Taking Social Action: Students actually try out new things and learn a little Korean and find out they actually like it. They are helping Halmoni adjust to life in the U.S., and at the same time they are learning about Halmoni's Korean culture.

Courage of the Blue Boy

Courage of the Blue Boy

Summary: Courage of the Blue Boy is about a boy who lives in a blue land. He starts to think that there must be more than blue, and goes on an adventure seeking out other colors. One day, he finds a city that is filled with many colors, but blue is missing. The blue boy is frightened and retreats to his room. However, he collects the courage to push out blue ideas out of his door. The next time he goes out to the city, he sees that there are little bits of blue everywhere, and starts to appreciate the diversity of the many colors, while embracing his unique identity.

Reflections: I chose this book because it places real social issues in a context that is easy to understand for younger children. The use of bright colors helps to carry the storyline and is appealing to the eye. I think that young children will be able to relate to the Blue Boy through some aspect of their lives, when they felt different and scared. The courage of the Blue Boy is something that I would like all of my students to model because I believe that every child has something unique to offer.

How would I use the book/curriculum units: This book can be used in the sense of multicultural education, as an introductory book to open discussions about social issues that exist in our society. It can be used to demonstrate the significance of personally identity through a character study. In addition, this book can be used in the beginning of the year while initially building a classroom community. It reinforces the fact that even though individuals can be different, they have special things to offer to the community.

Domains of Social Justice: This is a great book that demonstratesself-love and acceptance (1). The main character’s development shows how individuals can make a contribution to society while keeping in touch with their identity. In addition, this book can be used symbolically to explore issues of social justice (2) by discussing how similar issues relate in our society. The courage of the Blue Boy also demonstrates social change (3) and can be used to empower students to create change.

Nettie's Trip South

Nettie's Trip South

Nettie’s Trip South
Author: Ann Turner
Illustrated by: Ronald Himler

Summary: This story is about a girl named Nettie. The story is in the format of a letter. Nettie writes to her friend Addie and talks about her first experience visiting the south, everything from the train ride there to the many different things that she saw. She talks about what it was like seeing slaves but more importantly she expresses her opinion on everything. She sees the way they lived and the work that they needed to do. She also sees a slave auction. Seeing all these things disturbs her and makes her sick. She becomes very compassionate, sympathetic towards blacks and becomes very grateful for what she can do.

Reflections: I was very touched by this book. I believe that Nettie’s reaction to her first experience with slaves is very meaningful and speaks loudly. Her reactions really showed me that she looked pass their appearance and was able to look beyond that. I believe that this book will help the students learn about what it was like in the past and can also be a lesson to the students.

How would I use the book/curriculum units: This book could be used during a historical fiction reading unit. The students can learn about what was happening during the time of slavery. This book could also be used to start letter writing. This book can also be used for community building and teaching students to look beyond what their appearances are but to look deeper like Nettie did.

Domains of Social Justice:
1. Self-love and acceptance: This book addresses the issue of this domain, because through this book we could talk about different race and cultures and you can talk about how each person no matter what race or culture is accepted.
2. Respect for Others – This book really addresses this domain. We can see with Nettie’s reaction that she was able to respect other and look beyond their skin color.
3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice – The issue of racism is definitely confronted. There can be a lot of discussion around this issue. As you read the story, the students will learn about the way that the blacks lived and the way that they were treated. The students will hopefully understand the oppression that took place during this time.
4. Social movements and Social Change – I believe that from reading this book the students will be able to start looking at what happened after slavery and how equality was trying to be achieved.
5. Taking Social action – After reading this book and talking about Nettie’s reaction and their own reaction you can discuss what she should do next and what we can do to continue to make a difference. From this discussion, we can try to start taking action.

I believe that this book is a good beginning book for students to see what the south was like and what slavery really was. The students can see Nettie’s reaction and from that point, further their thinking and discussion explore in the other domains.