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.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Who Was Harriet Tubman?

Title : Who was Harriet Tubman?
Author: Yona Zeldis McDonough
Illlustred by: Nacy Harrison
Ages: 8-12
Grade Level: 2-6

About the Book:
The story of Harriet Tubman begins with a brief description of who was Harriet Tubman and how she grew into brave and daring young woman. She was brave to escape from slavery, after bring whipped by owners many times. She was courageous to help others get their freedom by escaping; that she then became known as “Moses”.
The book explores Harriet Tubman life from her birth as slave to her struggles that lead for freedom. The book look at her life in Maryland to the first time she heard about the Underground. The books also explores how she was able to unite the black and white people to stand together to address social injustice that the African American were facing on daily basis.
Element: Social Movements and Social Change
This book is adequate and great way to introduce element four of social movement and social change. From this book kids will learn about slavery, the civil war, and how one person can change the world. It will gave a message of hope to many of our students, that people will overcome anything if they are courage and brave enough to stand for the right cause.
This book would be great introduction to the civil right movement during the Black History Month. It will help students understand the hardships that African American had to go through to get their voice heard. As future teacher, one of the activities that I will enjoy doing with my students is a timeline about the important dates and events in the American history. I will ask my students to add their own events in this timeline, to help them understand that they are also part of history, and that they are making history each and every day.

eacher Lesson Resource
To find a copy of this book, please use link below: $5.99 $4.49

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wangari's Trees of Peace

Title: Wangari's Trees of Peace
True Story From Africa

Author and Illustrator: Jeanette Winter

Age Group: Ages 5-7

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Lesson Plan Ideas


Wangari's Tree of Peace is about a girl who lived in small village in Kenya who made a difference that the world could see. Before she goes to school in America she remembers her childhood in Kenya as a place full of beautiful green trees. When she returns to Kenya she sees that the trees that once stood were now destroyed for the new buildings that would rise. Wangari would not stand for this to happen and with one seed at a time and the cooperation of the women in her village she starts a movement across Africa to replant all the trees that had once been chopped. Wangari was jailed for protecting the forest but even then she did not give up and every tree that was destroyed and many more were planted all across Africa by millions of women.


Wangari was an ordinary girl who was concerned about the trees that were chopped from her village. Her concerns lead her not only to plant seedlings in her own backyard but had other women come together with her and start a movement of planting trees. This book truly teaches Social Justice because one woman was able to make a such a big difference in not only her community but world wide. She empowered women to come together and plant the trees regardless of the men attempting to destroy their work. Students learn that something as small as planting a tree can make a huge change. Wangari Maathai was awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 1994 for her Green Belt Movement.


I could teach this book in two settings: teaching about the environment in a science lesson and teaching about social change and movement in a history lessons. Children can learn about the importance of trees and the environment through the book. I would also use this book to show children of all ages that anyone can make a difference maybe have the children take part in some sort of social change big or small.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Paths to Peace

Book Title
"Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World"

Author: Jane Breskin Zalben

Recommended Grade Level: 4 - 6th Grade

In this book, sixteen different short biographies are written about "peacemakers" throughout the world: people who as Jane Zalben puts it "made the world a better place". Covering both well known figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and lesser known characters like Wangari Maathai, this book is great to spark discussion on social justice education among upper elementary school students. With interesting artwork and quotes accompanying each biography, Zalben covers a variety of ethnic groups and backgrounds sure to inspire intrinsic learning and foster reflective reading.

Social Justice Education:
Zalben's Paths to Peace provides great examples of iconic and everyday individuals who rose to the challenge of social change. For instance, Cesar Chavez founded the National Farm Workers Association after a growing concern with the unequal and unsafe treatment of Mexican-American laborers. In order to "create change" Chavez organizes his fellow Mexican-Americans in a boycott of grapes and lettuce for five years. Together, Chavez and his followers win themselves new labor laws thus improving the conditions of Mexican farm workers.

Suggestible Links:

Purchasing the book - - $18.99
Amazon - $12.29
Powell's Books -$18.99

Lesson Plans & Activities -

1. Make a Peace Calendar
3. Assign a book report on other Noble Prize winners

To see what other activities TeachPeaceNow suggested, please visit the following link.

Harriet Tubman

Element Four: Social Movements and Social Change.

Title: Harriet Tubman
Author: Catherine Nichols
Illustrated by: Brian Denington
Suggested Uses: Age 4-8

Summary: The book provides students with some biographical and historical insight into the life of Harriet Tubman. "Harriet Tubman" illustrates the strenuous efforts that she went through to become free from slavery. Catherine Nichols highlights the issue of slavery, and how the escape of one brave and courageous woman returned to the Underground Railroad to help rescue hundreds of the other slaves.

Social Justice Education: Teachers can use this book and apply it to element four of SJE because it embodies how one woman's efforts created change and addressed the issues of racism and slavery. It is a suitable book for young readers to understand the general idea about the importance of social movements and social change.

Purchase it now!

Other Information:
Lesson Plan
Book Review

By: Megan Carricarte

Sweet Land of Liberty

Sweet Land of Liberty
by Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrated by Leonard Jenkins
Grades 3+
BUY! $16.95
Experiencing his own injustices as a child, Oscar Chapman grew up to be an assistant secretary pf the interior under Franklin Roosevelt, who stood up for what is right. In 1939, Marian Anderson, an African American opera singer was invited by Howard University to sing at Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. However, the owners of the hall denied her the chance because of her race. Not standing for this, Chapman arranged for her to sing in front of the Lincoln Memorial in front of 75,000 people. Opening with one of our nation's anthems "Sweet Land of Liberty," she was the first to have performed at this venue. It is also the place were Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous speech, twenty-four years after Anderson's performance. This was not only a tremendous event for Anderson, Chapman, and Washington D.C., but for a nation as well, as Chapman devoted much of his efforts to ending segregation. This was but a minor part in the civil rights movement, but the work of a few people, made a big difference for a lot.
This book portrays the work and effort of an everyday person, Oscar Chapman. He realized how cruel the world can be at a young age, and grew up to make a change. This story depicts how people stand up for not just themselves and their own race, but for others as well. Social Justice Element #4 is all about how people make a change in the face of injustice. When Chapman became aware of Anderson's circumstance, he took upon himself to make sure she was allowed to be heard. Not only was Anderson allowed to perform, she performed in front of five times as many people that would have heard her at Constitution Hall.
Teachers can incorporate this book in several different units. To view some lesson plans associated with this book click here... scroll down to view "Teaching History with Children's Literature: Sweet Land of Liberty." To include a short clip of Anderson's performance to your lesson plan click here.

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King

Title: Happy Birthday Martin Luther King
Author: Jean Marzollo
Illustrator: J. Brian Pinkney
Grade Level: K-2
Purchase this book:
Teacher Activities:
Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King focuses on the most influential moments that took place within the lifetime of Martin Luther King Jr. Although the book does not go into great detail, it does elaborate on the most significant accomplishments that he obtained during his lifetime. The simplified wording and elaborate illustrations within story allow students to fully understand Martin Luther King's accomplishments and carry out the message of peace and brotherhood among all people.
Social Movements and Socail Change:
Social justice element #4 focuses of the way that people stand together to address and defeat social injustices such as, sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, religious intolerance, ect. Within Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, students learn about the way Martin Luther King Jr. influenced the people of the United States by speaking out against racial segregation. The book explains the laws that Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers changed such as, seating on public transportation, the sharing of restaurants and drinking fountains among both races, ending segregation in public schools, ect. These examples clearly represent social justice element #4 and portray a sense of teamwork, dedication and determination to accomplish a common goal.
Martin Luther King Jr. In the Classroom:
There are a number of great activities that teachers can use in the classroom to coincide with this book and the topic of Martin Luther King Jr. Just as Martin Luther King emphasized the beauty of diversity, so does the "Seed Project." Within this project, a variety of flower seeds are passed out to each student. The seeds are of different colors, shapes and sizes, to represent the different individuals within society. The students then plant the seeds within their individual egg cartons. As the flowers begin to sprout, they are then transported into a small garden on school grounds. Once the flowers grow, the students can then observe their beautiful diverse garden creation. Teachers can then address their students with follow-up questions regarding the topic of diversity in order to clarify the deeper meaning of the "Seed Project."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

One Hen

TITLE: One Hen
AUTHOR: Katie Smith Milway

One Hen, by Katie Smith Milway, is a book for children ages 9-12. It is a story about a boy from Ghana, Kojo, who turns a small loan into a prosperous farm for his village. The book shows how one small idea can change the lives of many. It is based on a true story of a Ghanaian who started a trust to help thousands of people begin small businesses. In the story, Kojo's family is struggling to survive. They sell firewood and barely make enough money to buy food. Kojo gets an idea to buy a hen, so that they will have fresh eggs to eat. He then sells the extra eggs for money at the market. With the money he makes from the eggs, Kojo buys more hens and earns enough money to pay for his schooling. After college, Kojo eventually builds up a poultry farm with his earnings, which improves his community greatly. He helps others by loaning them money so that they too can overcome poverty. It is an inspiring story that shows how change can happen, one person at a time.

This book is an excellent story to teach the fourth element of Social Justice Education. It represents the theme of social movement and social change. One Hen teaches children that change can happen, one person at a time. It shows how everyday people can make big changes in the world. Through reading One Hen, children will learn how people can work together to overcome the issues of social injustice, element three.

As a future teacher, I would use One Hen to teach the importance of social change. I believe that the story will inspire and motivate children to make a difference. This book will encourage children to take action in order to see a change in the world. One Hen can be a useful tool to educate students on how small loans can make big changes. After reading the story, the children can work in small groups and come up with different ideas to raise money. Some examples could be a bake sale or recycling cans. The class can work together to raise money and donate it to a charity organization for people who need loans. This would not only be an educational lesson for the children, but it would also be a rewarding experience for them to help make a change in the world.

Emma's Poem

Title: Emma’s Poem

The Voice of the Statue of Liberty

By: Linda Glaser

Painted by: Claire A. Nivola

Grade Level: 1st-4th

Emma’s Poem, The Voice of the Statue of Liberty tells the story of Emma, a little girl who grew up with having plenty of everything. As an adult Emma was a well known writer but, only knew people who were as fortunate as her. One afternoon Emma visited Ward’s Island in New York Harbor. She was shocked to meet poor Jewish immigrants who had traveled from Eastern Europe across the ocean to New York. Emma felt sad and hurt seeing so many individuals who were mistreated and unfortunate. Emma wanted to make a change and help the people. Later Emma found out France was constructing a statue to give to the United States as a friendship gift. To raise money famous writers were asked to write something. Emma wrote a poem that was read at the pedestal fundraiser celebration. Her poem demonstrated a strong voice speaking up for immigrants. The Statue of Liberty was given to the United States by France as a friendship gift. Emma Lazarus wrote a poem expressing a strong voice about immigrants, giving them an opportunity and making a change for the well being of people.

Emma’s Poem, The Voice of the Statue of Liberty demonstrates Element #4, Social Movement and Social Change. Emma grew up having plenty of everything. She did not realize everyone was not as fortunate as her. When she saw the poor Jewish immigrants she felt sad and upset but knew she would be the voice of these people. As a talented writer Emma Lazarus wrote poetry expressing her attitude to make a difference.

I feel this book is an appropriate tool in the classroom. Emma’s Poem, The Voice of the Statue of Liberty is the perfect introduction book discussing the history of the Statue of Liberty, immigration and famous writers and poets. Emma Lazarus, which the book is based around, Mark Twain and Walt Whitman are a few famous writers mentioned. After, teacher’s can plan a field trip to the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, New York, NY. Students will be given the opportunity to see the Statue of Liberty and Emma’s engraved poem.

Today Emma Lazarus poem is well known, just like the Statue of Liberty is well known as the mother of immigrants. As future teachers we are motivated to make a difference in student’s lives. Creating a positive attitude towards change and the want to help people in the classroom will allow students the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life.

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Learn more about Emma Lazarus

Visit the Statue of Liberty

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Civil Rights Movement

Title: “The Civil Rights Movement” (Lives in Crisis Series)

Author: Nigel Ritchie

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The author and other titles

Lesson plan

The intended age group for this book is 9-13. This book is about slavery, segregation and racial discrimination in the United States until the 1960’s. Divided into sections, each one depicts a specific event related to the Civil Rights Movement. It talks about Martin Luther King, Jr.; about his life, his contributions, the struggles he encountered, and his famous speech: I Have a Dream. Vivid images and photographs supplement this historical fiction. Such dramatic illustrations serve as an aid to link the facts to the actual events.

This title falls under element 4: Social Movements and Social Change. Evidently, the book encompasses the process of putting an end to slavery and discrimination. Actions were taken in order for change to occur and bring justice and equality amongst every individual, Black or White. Specifically, it teaches students about the acts and sacrifices people went through to accomplish equality in the United States. The students are able to compare what our country was like many decades ago and after the Civil Rights Movement. Children will be able to see that anything is possible, just as long as you want it bad enough. It fosters the belief that we all have and are entitle to equal rights and have to fight for our rights, making them into strong, independent individuals.

As an educator, after explaining the Civil Rights Movement and the racial discrimination to my students, I would have them reflect on how they feel about the segregation. They would go on to write a speech, similar to that of Martin Luther King, Jr., where they outline what their dream is. I would provide them with various topics that affect our nation now for them to write about how to make changes to better our country. Then, each student would draw a picture and read their speech out loud to the class.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt

Title: Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt
Author: Deborah Hopkinson
Grade Level: K-2 (Ages 4-8)

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt tells the story of a young slave girl. At the beginning of the story, Clara, who is 11 years old, is taken from her mother and sold to a new master. Clara started out as a field hand picking cotton. In the field, she cried wanting to see her mother so badly. She dreamed that one day she would see her mother again and she would do whatever it took to make that happen. Clara learns how to sew and moves from a field hand to a seamstress in the house. Being in the house has many advantages for young Clara. She overhears many conversations about the Underground Railroad and the paths to take to make it through. She decides to take scraps of fabric to start making herself a quilt. Instead of a regular quilt, she makes a map to freedom. Many other slaves know what she is trying to do and give her help whenever they can by telling her new paths they discover. She finally finishes the quilt and decides that it is time to leave the plantation. She takes a few people with her but leaves the quilt behind with an elderly woman who could not make the trip. Clara and the slaves she escapes with travel all the way to freedom where Clara sees her mom again. The quilt she left behind helps many more people escape to freedom each day.

Element four is about social movements and social change. People who are famous for social change like Harriet Tubman or Rosa Parks are honored for what they did. However, there are people like Clara who helped change the world as well. Although this story is not a true story, it still shows children that not everyone who helped change the world was acknowledged for doing so. It takes a lot more than just one person to change the minds of a nation. Clara was like Harriet Tubman because she led many people on the right path to freedom. In class, students can have a chance to make their own quilt pieces. Children will take home a fabric square and decorate it with their family. Their square represents them. Once all the squares are completed, the teacher will sew them all together to make one big class quilt, combining every culture and family in the class together.

Click here for another great review of the book!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

From Slave Ship to Freedom Road

FROM Slave Ship
TO Freedom Road

Written by: Julius Lester
Paintings by: Rod Brown

Grade Level: 5th

(Children who are growing up in this century might not realize that people were unequal once before. It is imperative to teach students the history of slavery and how far those people have come!)

Before Reading: Have students write one paragraph and paint a picture to reflect that paragraph about what they think slavery is before anything is taught to them.

Summary: This story paints a clear picture of how life was during slavery. Stories are told from the beginning of slavery to the end of their journey towards freedom. This book helps students imagine the horrible experience slaves endured. Students also gain a sense of hope and joy as they finally reach freedom. By the end of this book, students of all races will better understand the history of slavery. The author of this book gives commentary throughout the reading to allow African-Americans to reflect on their own feelings about their background. This commentary also provides students of all races to actually think about the history of slavery rather then just learn the facts.

Follow-Up Activity: Now, have students write one-two paragraphs on what slavery actually was. They can also paint a picture just like the book. Have students compare and contrast within small groups and then eventually with the whole class.

Social Justice: This book clearly supports the history of racism and how diversity has differently impacted African-American people. Students learn the connection between the history of slavery and how equal African Americans are today (Black President).

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Rock and the River

Title: The Rock and the River Ages 9-14

Author: Kelka Magoon

The Rock and the River depicts how a young fourteen year old African-American boy struggles with being the son of a known civil rights activist. Especially when his older brother Stick, begins to show interest in the Black Panthers, a group that seems to be against everything his father has taught him.

Sam has believed for so long that you can effect change through non-violent acts, but his beliefs become questionable as he witnesses his family and friends suffer at the hands of racism in their own community. As a result Sam begins to explore the ideas and beliefs of the Black Panther organization with his brother, but soon is put in a position that he never would have imagined himself to be in.

But its up to him to look deep within himself, and make the decision only he can make. He no longer can follow his father or brothers footsteps, he has to create his own path.

Although this is a fictional story, it depicts the real life events and challenges that many teens faced during the civil tights movement in 1968. This book stays true to the viewpoint of a teenager. It isn't often that a child's point of view is taken when retelling history and the struggles that one may endure, this book does that for its readers. It makes their presence during life situations realistic.

Connection to Element 3: This book helps gives students a view from the participators point of view during the civil rights movement, rather than the civil right leaders point of view. It encourages students to think about how society today may challenge their beliefs today, and consider how they would, if they could, attempt to evoke change.

Teacher Resource: Kelka Magoon visits schools to encourage and incorporate guided discussion with students about themes explored in The Rock and the River, Readers' Theatre, and Q&A about Kekla's process for researching and writing the novel. These discussions can be tailored to suit small groups, classroom groups and large audiences. If you or your school is interested in having Kelka come visit, contact her at:

The Other Side

Title: The Other Side

Author: Jacqueline Woodson

Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis

Ages: 6-8

Grade Level: Kindergarten-2nd

Synopsis: The Other Side tells the story of a white girl, Annie and a black girl, Clover. They live on opposite sides of a fence that divides the black and white side of town. Clover's mother warns her not to climb over the fence when she plays. When she asks her mother why she replies, "Because that's the way things have always been." Annie sits on the fence every day and Clover wonders about this mysterious girl. One day Clover approaches Annie and they sit on the fence together. They spent the summer sitting together and gazing at the world around them. Annie even began to play with Clover and her friends. They all sit together on the fence and wonder about the day when the fence may be finally knocked down.

How this book represents element #3: I believe that social injustice is shown in this book because a fence is used to divide the two different races. The fact that Clover and Annie want to play with each other and do not worry that they are not supposed to shows that they support diversity. This book was written at a time when it was not okay for blacks and whites to be in contact with each other. I think this concept can teach children how society has grown from this barrier and that skin color does not make someone different. The last page of the book explains the hope that the children have for someday being able to be a part of each others world. "Someday somebody's going to come along and knock this old fence down," Annie said. And I nodded. "Yeah," I said. "Someday."

Activities: I would use this book to promote discussion and learn how children feel about the race barrier that once existed. While the book is being read, I would have the children write down ideas that stuck out to them. Depending on the grade I would do one of two things. If it was a Kindergarten level, I might have them put their hand prints onto paper. One hand would be black and the other hand would be white. Once the paint dries, they would write characteristics of Clover and Annie. If it was a 1st or 2nd grade class, I would have them create a before and after picture. The before would show how racism was seen in the past and the after would show how it is seen now. Finally they would write words around the border that describe how racism is shown throughout the picture.

The Other Side Activities

Click here
for another great review of the book!

Forever Young

Forever Young
By: Bob Dylan
Illustrated By: Paul Rogers

Bob Dylan’s notorious song is brought to life in this colorful illustration representing the past. Dylan’s lyrics convey a nurturing and sentimental narrative intended for future generations. The narrative encourages children to lead a self-righteous life through the empowerment of positive ideals and attitudes. Although, the lyrics foster a distinct attribute, the true character of the story encompasses whimsical illustrations.
The subliminal message of racism is present through the creation of influential figures and protests. The illustrator provides pictures of predominate historical figures like Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy. Students will learn about the historical figures that shaped the civil rights movement in American history. The narrative creates a strong foundation for introducing topics like the civil rights movement, peaceful protests, Rosa Parks, little rock nine, and even moral behavior.
This book would be recommended in a first through third grade classroom. More or less depth can be added to a specific topic that is appropriate to all grade levels. The incorporation of music is also a helpful tool. Students will enjoy locating and identifying historical figures along side famous musicians, like Paul McCartney and John Lennon.

Nobody Gonna Turn Me 'Round

Nobody Gonna Turn Me Round: Stories and songs of the civil rights movement

Author: Doreen Rappaport

Illustrator: Shane W. Evans

Ages: 9-12

Summary: This book demonstrates the important events that African Americans experience during the Civil Rights Movement. The author creates a powerful informative text by bringing it to life. Rappaport includes songs, poems, memories, and quotes from well known activist as well as unheard individuals. The images of this book are vivid, direct, and emotionally moving. It illustrates the fear, sadness, determination, struggles, beliefs, and hopes for one day to be freed and treated equally.

Social Injustice:
In reading this book, children will learn and have an understanding about the history of racism that African Americans encountered during the Civil Rights Movement. In this book, teachers can demonstrate the meaning of the word racism but, also, show the effects that racism had on individuals. Furthermore, this book illustrates that not only African American adults were treated unfairly but children of their age faced threats, too. It took brave individuals to take a stand and make a difference in the world. By this students are able to understand the journey that the African Americans had to overcome in order to be treated equally. After all, everyone should have equal rights no matter their sex, color, or religion.

Some activities that can be done from this book:
  • Students can be put into groups and select an event from the story. The children, then, can perform the part to the class.
  • Students can become storytellers and pick an event from the story that they liked.
  • Discuss or write about events in today’s society that deals with prejudice. For example, you can discuss about the Immigration reform and the Trail of Dream. This can be compared to the events in the book.

Purchase this book for $9.99.

Additional activities that are related to this book can be found in the author's webpage.

Jackie Robinson

Title- Jackie Robinson

Author- Stephanie Sammartino McPherson

Illustration- Tad Butler

Ages- 7 to 10

Summary- This book is a chronicle of Jackie Robinson’s life. It gives a timeline of historical events that were influential for not only his life but for the lives of some many people. By breaking down his life in different stages it help the reader understand and follow his events and see how he dealt with adversity.

Link for Book's&exp=4020

Link for teachers- This website has a variety of lessons and discussions on the subject of racism.

SJE- I feel that this book fall into the element of “Exploring Issues of Social Injustice” because it discusses the issue of segregation and racism that occurred in the mid 1900’s. It also briefly discusses the civil rights movement.

How I would use- I would use this book to describe to the students what racism is. By explaining briefly what it is I would use Jackie Robinson as an example and have them read about his trail and tribulations. Possible save this lesson for the month of February because that is black history month and show them how Jackie and others made great strides to gain equality.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Remember: The Journey to School Integration

Title: Remember: The Journey to School

Author: Toni Morrison

Recommended for ages 8-10, grades 3-5.

Purchase here! ($13)
For lesson plans. (click "View Printable")

Summary: In this book, Toni Morrison puts words into pictures and depicts conversations, thoughts, and actions that would have occurred during the period of school integration. The book thoroughly explores the ideas of white children and adults whether they were for or against integration, as well as what black students and parents went through amidst fears of how integration would be handled. Throughout every few pages and as stated in the beginning of the book, the story of school integration and integration in general impacts students and people today because had it not been for the past, we would not be where we are today. Morrison categorizes it as "the Narrow Path, the Open Gate, and the Wide Road". The book allows children from every ethnicity to open their minds and put themselves in another's shoes to explore what integration, segregation, and racism would have been like for that other person.

Representation of Social Injustice: Social injustice is represented in this book through the pictures of blacks and whites fighting with each other, white children influenced by their friends to stand for segregation, and the white people who chose to sit with the black people and profess integration, to just name a few. Blacks wanted to be treated as an equal, not as though they were an equal. The biggest injustice and humiliating thing for blacks was that they were not given the same education as white children. Blacks were seen as inferior; hence, there is no such thing as "separate but equal".

To Use This Book: I would use this book in my classroom when teaching about Brown v. Board of Education. I might also try to really give students of a feeling of what segregation was like by separating the classroom where one ethnicity of children sat in the front and others sat in the back and at the end of the day ask students how it felt to be treated unfairly. Social injustice of ethnicity or races goes beyond just that category and extends to religious intolerance and social classes, as is illustrated in F. Scott Fitzgerald's book The Great Gatsby and the history of the Holocaust. Social injustice would be an interesting way to transition into bullying. I would ask a student "why won't you let "Jane" go down the slide? Would you want "Jane" to not let you go down the slide?" To make another transition, into Social Element 4: Social Movements and Social Change, I would encourage students to find something that they believe is worth fighting for justice and work to make a difference. Some examples may include animal rights, nuclear weapons/war, the education system. Students can right letters and petitions to fight for the causes they deem important to them.

Click here for another great review of the book!

What if the Zebras Lost Their Stripes?

What if the Zebras Lost Their Stripes?
By: John Reitano
Illustrated By: William Haines

Ages 4-8

Available for purchase at: Barnes & Noble and Amazon

Summary: In this book zebras loose their stripes and become different than each other. Some zebras are only white and other zebras are only black. The book analyzes what would happen if zebras lost their stripes and if they were left as only black or white. Through rhymes and questions children become aware that no matter what a zebras skin color is, it doesn't change the fact that they are an animal like any other.

Social Injustice: This book deals with prejudice helping children understand how to avoid it. Through zebras this book helps teach children about being different races and how that is okay. Zebras obviously being compared to humans and different races will help children understand a persons skin color doesn't make them the kind of person they are. People should be looked at from the inside out. If they are a nice person then they are a good friend and should be treated with respect. This book will hopefully show students it is okay to be friends with children who make not look the same way you do.

Activities That Can Come From this Book:

-Using different skin toned paints children can paint each others faces and hang them all together on a wall in the classroom.
-Researching different races and classifying unique things from each race.

An ingenious look at prejudice, profound in its simplicity. Reitano and Haines should be commended- this book is flawless! - Childrens Magazine, by Elain Gant, February 1999.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Egyptian Cinderella

Title: The Egyptian Cinderella
Author: Shirley Climo
Illustrator: Ruth Heller

The Egyptian Cinderella is a new and different cultural take on the classic Cinderella fairy tale. Rhodopis is the Cinderella in this story. She has no mother or father. From Greece originally, she was sold as a slave to Egypt. The Egyptian servant girls look down upon her because she is different. They all have straight black hair, brown eyes, and tan skin while Rhodopis has green eyes, tangled hair, and rosy skin from the sun. The Egyptian servant girls make fun of her and force her to do more work than she has to. Rhodopis has a talent in dancing and her master sees that one-day. He decides to buy her new beautiful shoes that are perfect for dancing. The Pharaoh of Egypt comes across one of her shoes when a falcon has stolen it and dropped it in front of him. He is determined to find the owner. He finds Rhodopis and the Egyptian servants are angry proclaiming that she is not Egyptian and therefore cannot be with the Pharaoh. The prince sees past the differences and says, “She is the most Egyptian of all…For her eyes are as green as the Nile, her hair as feathery as papyrus, and her skin the pink of a lotus flower.” The Pharaoh and Rhodopis are then married.

Element three is about exploring the issues of social justice, for instance, racism. This book shows racism from the Egyptian servant girls. They did not take kindly to Rhodopis because she looked different than they. When it came to the master and the Pharaoh, they were able to look past the appearances and differences and accept Rhodopis for who she was not what color skin she had. This book can show students that racism is not only in America it is a global issue. In class, especially a first grade or kindergarten class, we can do an activity that seems simple but sends a strong message. The teacher can print out blank faces on pieces of paper and have each child draw and color their own portrait. Once the portraits are finished, the teacher would hang them on a board in the classroom. This shows children that we are all different in our own ways and our skin color does not matter.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Different Like Me

Different Like Me by Marc Thomas is about an eight year old boy named Quinn who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Throughout the text he talks about the accomplishments, struggles, and characteristics of his autistic heroes.
This text introduces children from the age of eight to twelve years old to well-known inspirational figures from the world of science, art, math, literature, philosophy and comedy. Historical figures such as Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, Lewis Carroll, Andy Warhol, and a few others have contributed to society in many ways yet they have had to overcome different forms of oppression. Quinn has a few things in common with each person mentioned, but mostly they are similar because they have had a hard time fitting in, not only their peers, but in society as well.
This book is valuable to my classroom because it proves that diversity has impacted various groups of people in several different ways. This book represents element number three, Exploring Issues of Social Injustice. Although Quinn hadn’t dealt with racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, or religious intolerance, he faced another prejudice because of his handicap and so did every person mentioned throughout the story. This text allows students to learn about the struggles that these particular figures have overcome.
I would use this book as a way to help students with low self-esteem and those who have a hard time fitting in with everyone else. As for the students who don’t have any issues, they can learn from this book as well because it proves that no one is better than anyone else. Everyone is capable of anything they set their mind too, just ask Albert Einstein.
You can purchase this book by clicking on the link below.

This is the Dream

Title: This Is The Dream
Author: Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander
Illustrated by: James Ransome
More Information: Description/Author Information
Scholastic Suggested Activities
Grade Level: 2-3 grade

Summary: This book can be separated into two parts. First, it shows the ways in which African Americans were treated prior to the Civil Rights Movement. It shows many different examples of ways in which African Americans were poorly treated, such as, not being able to sit on the bus, drinking from different fountains and segregated schools. But it then shows how it took courageous people who stood up and fought for their rights for equality to exist.
SJE: This Is The Dream represents element 3 because it doesn't just celebrate that we are now a diverse nation, it shows how horrible African Americans were treated prior to the Civil Rights Movement. Also, this book does not shy away from the horrible ways in which whites acted towards African Americans. Though the words are simple and in a rhyme scheme, the illustrations say so much about the hatred that occurred. On one of the pages it specifically shows the four major figures during the Civil Rights Movement that truly changed the world we live in. In the end, it celebrates that we can live together equally, but that this was not an easy accomplishment.
Activities: There are so many activities that a teacher could do with this book. Two that I think would be really effective and fun include an art project and also a little research project. The artwork in this book is amazing. Not only are the pictures very good, but there are collage frames around many of the pictures that have signs that say "No Blacks Allowed" etc., but my favorite frame is towards the end of the book and there are faces with different noses, eyes, mouths, etc. I would have the students cut out facial features and bodies of all different races from newspapers or magazines. Then, they would be mixed up and each group would have all different features. The faces would ultimately have a variety have races represented. The point of this activity would be to show the students that just because we do not look alike, we are all apart of each other and it is necessary that we realize this. Also, another activity inspired by this book can be about the monumental figures in the Civil Rights Movement. This book focuses on four specific figures, so students could either be put into small groups and each group has a figure from the book or they could pick other figures that promoted similar causes. Each activity would promote element 3 by exhibiting how racism has effected African Americans and our lives today.
Other Information: I think this book can be extremely effective because it shows that all it took were people to fight for their beliefs to have these inequalities change, which can influence the next element showing that it is possible for change to occur.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Why Am I Different?

Element 2: Respect For Others
Title: Why Am I Different?
Author: Norma Simon
Pictures by: Dora Leder
Ages: 4 to 8

Summary: The book highlights individual differences among children. The children measure differences between their friends, by comparing height, hair color, place in the family, and preferences. At first they question why they are different from their friends. Eventually, they realize that there are reasons for some of their differences and that some differences exist for no aparent reason. At the end of the story, the children realize that if we were all the same then everything would be boring.
SJE: Why I Am Different represents my element "Respect For Others" being it explores differences of people in our world, paving the way for respect of each individual. The book displays parents having different types of jobs, regardless of their sex. For example, a woman is shown as mail carrier and a man is cooking. The story reinforces that our mothers and fathers may do different types of work that might not be typical for them. This exemplifies how people are respected regardless of who they are and what they do for a living in society. The book displays children doing different activites. It states, "You draw better pictures than I do. I can write better than you. That's how I'm different." This enhances self respect since each child is good at something different. Everyboday has their own gift.
Activity: The students will make a side by side illustration of themselves and a friend or family member. They will then compare the differences between them and the other person. Then the students will then share the differences with the class.
How would you use this book: I would use this book to explain to my class that everyone is different in their own unique ways. I would explain what it is to be diverse and how children grow up with different ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds which enhance their lives. The students would be able to express how it feels to be different from their friends and show respect for their friends' differences.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Some Kids are Deaf

Element 2: Respect for Others

Title: Some Kids Are Deaf

Author: Lola M. Schaefer

Age: 8-12 years

Grade Level: 3rd-6th

Buy This Book!

Summary: Simple text and photographs describe children who are deaf, the ways they communicate, and some of their everyday activites. This book support the national social studies standards related to individual development and identity. After reading this book, your students will gain a sense of the day in a life of a deaf child. The book educates readers that some kids are born deaf and others can become deaf. Student readers will become familiar with tools for hearing such as hearing aids and cochlear implants. Throughout the book you can find clear pictures to inform readers that deaf kids rely on primarily on photographs to learn. Some kids who are deaf use sign language to communicate by using hand signs that represent letters, words, and numbers. Children will understand that speech therapists help teach kids who are deaf to communicate.

SJE: Even if you do not have deaf children in your classroom, it is imperative to educate your students about deaf culture. This will ensure respect for others in your classroom atmosphere. This author also writes children books about kids who are blind, kids who have autism, kids that use wheelchairs and leg braces.

Activities: As a teacher, I would read the book to my students and elaborate on every aspect of the deaf culture. After educating my students on the deaf world, I would then teach them sign language. First starting with the alphabet and numbers, then exploring into words and phrases in sign language. Through experience, once children are taught to talk with their hands they become infatuated. Hopefully this new exploration will lead to classroom trips that involve deaf experiences.

Read More : Kelley, Walter P. Deaf Culture A to Z. Austin, Texas: Buto Limited, 2003.

Petelinsek, Kathleen, and E. Russell Primm. At School/En la escula. Talking Hands. Chanhassen, Minn.: Child’s World, 2006.

Royston, Angela. Deafness. What’s It Like? Chicago: Heinemann Library, 205.


Title: Stellaluna

Author: Janell Cannon

Ages: 4-8

purchase your copy here!

lesson plans, anyone?!


This fictional piece is about a baby fruit bat, Stellaluna, who loses her mother in a dreadful brawl between the two bats and an owl. Stellaluna falls down a great distance and lands among a birds nest. At first, Stellaluna is apprehensive to be around the birds until she grows so hungry that she has to climb from under the nest, where she was hanging, to inside, where the mother bird was dropping bugs for her babies to eat. Stellaluna was not too fond of eating bugs but she did it to survive. Stellaluna acted like a bird for most of the time and thought she was just like the birds because they fly and so can she. The end is where she was found hanging upside down, from a bat's point of view, and she is questioned why she is doing so. One of the bats who came to see this sight was her estranged mother. Stellaluna was then reunited with her mother but still remains friends with the birds.

This book relates to element two, respect for others, because it clearly shows two animals that may differ in some ways but are also incredibly similar as well. Stellaluna respects the birds just as the birds respect that Stellaluna has diverse attributes and is not like them in every way. Both animals know they are different but that does not stop them from being friends. It allows children to comprehend the fact that although people may appear different, they are still human beings and should be treated with the utmost respect.

I would use this book in a Kindergarten classroom to open their eyes on the diverse world we live in. After doing a read-aloud, I would ask the students to tell me what the book was about to make sure their comprehension skills are in check. Then, I would ask them to tell me some unique things about them that set them apart from everyone else. I would explain to my students that everyone is different in their own way and remind them of how boring life would be if every person looked, dressed, and acted the same. This would allow them to embrace who they are and the individuals around them.


I chose this book because it is geared towards a younger age group. I believe that if you start your students with respect for other races and cultures at a young age, then they would be more open-minded as they grew older.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What is Beautiful?

Title:What is Beautiful?
Author: Etan Boritzer
Illustrated by: Nancy Forrest


What is Beautiful? This book provides parents and classroom teachers with the opportunity to make children critically think about what we all take for granted: that which is beautiful. The book is written following a format of questioning "What is beautiful?" The narrator takes us through the obvious things we see to the not so obvious things that we don't give much thought to. The narrator asks the reader to think about his ideas of beauty. Exactly what makes something or someone beautiful? Is beauty only associated with appearance or what people tell us is beautiful? Is it more about what others think is beautiful? What is the reader's perception of what is beautiful? Children are asked to consider the why behind what they think or label as beautiful. This provides an opportunity for children to express their feelings and ask questions about an abstract concept that is rather difficult to define since "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", which is one of the themes of this book. The narrator asks "can things which do not look beautiful really be beautiful later on?" It allows the children to think about those things or people which they may not initially include in their lists of what is beautiful, and maybe redefine beauty to include them. One of the most interesting and thought provoking questions focuses on how somebody can be beautiful on the inside instead of the outside. The narrator refers to this as "inside stuff". Children can now think about qualities that are not readily seen or heard or felt that would make someone "beautiful", such as being brave, peaceful, giving, loving. The message is to learn about beauty from different perspectives, to be accepting of what others think is beautiful and to redefine beauty to include what is important to each individual.

Element of Respect (#2)
"What is Beautiful" represents respect for each person's idea of beauty, as well as tolerance for ideas that are different from ours. The book does not preach respect, but rather provides opportunity to have dialogue about what really makes someone or something beautiful. It promotes the idea of critically thinking about a concept rather than just accepting what you are told is beautiful. As a result, children can feel OK about perceiving people and things as beautiful even if it is not the norm.

I think this book would be great for grades 3 and 4. Before I read the book to the class, I will have the students write their personal definition of beauty, or what makes a person or thing beautiful on sentence strips. You can put it into a box and have each student come up and pick one out, read it aloud and tape it on the bulletin board. We can have a discussion about some of the definitions making sure that the children give reasons as to why they feel something is beautiful, then I will have them write down three things they consider to be beautiful and save it until after we read the book. We will then start to read the book stopping every so often to discuss some of the questions the narrator asks in order to get the children thinking about beauty in different ways. We will do that throughout the book and now you can ask them if they would change their definition of what makes somebody or something beautiful, and let them rewrite it if they wish.
I would ask them to cut out pictures from magazines that I have on hand or bring things from home in order to make a collage, and after it is finished, break the students into groups where they can discuss how their pictures fit their new definition of beauty.

Click here for another great review of the book!

My Grampy Can't Walk

Author: Vanita Oelschlager
Illustrators: Robin Hegan and Kristin Blackwood

Buy it here!

Lesson Plan Guide!

Summary: "My Grampy Can't Walk" is a children's book written for children who are in kindergarten through third grade. The story is about Grampy who has Multiple Sclerosis and is wheelchair bound due to his disability. Additionally, the story is told through the lens of his grandchildren and shows the great relationship they have together even though he is disabled.

Throughout the story the author highlights the many stunning things Grampy does with his grandchildren. The great love and respect the grandchildren have for their Grampy is also apparent throughout the story as well. This book is very moving because Grampy really embraces his disability.

Respect for others: "My Grampy Can't Walk" is a great book that can be used in the classroom to help foster respect for others. This book provides a better understanding about people with a disability for children. Element two is really represented in this book because the author depicts that if someone has a disability they may be different but they still have dignity, and deserve to be loved and respected. Furthermore, the book shows children that even though having a disability can be difficult you can still have respect for yourself and live a great life.

Activity: This book would be appropriate to use for an activity on "Respect for others". I would first gather with my students on our classroom rug and read the book aloud. Then I would ask my students to explain what the story was about. Next I would allow time for some questions and speak about people with disabilities. After this I would let the students each talk about someone they know with a disability. During this time they would also share with the class one thing they love about that person. Afterword we would talk about the importance of respect for others and ourselves regardless of what disabilities one may or may not have. To conclude this activity each student would draw a picture of the person they spoke about and include what they love about them.