Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Title: Chrysanthemum

Author: Kevin Henkes

Grade Level: K-3; Ages: 5-9

Summary: The story of Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes, is about a small girl mouse that has a beautiful name and is absolutely perfect in her parents’ eyes. She grows up loving her name until she starts school when children laugh at how long her name is and how she is named after a flower. Her parents try to convince her that her name is still wonderful. But she cannot be convinced. Then she goes to music class where she meets Mrs. Twinkle who all the children love. Mrs. Twinkle lets her students in on a secret about her own real name. She also tells them that when she has a little girl, she will name her Chrysanthemum. From that point forward, Chrysanthemum learns to love the name she was given.

SJE: “Chrysanthemum” addresses the element "Raising Awareness" by identifying children who are bullying and being bullied. The children in the class can see the picture of the character’s face and how her emotions are shown through her face. The book can lead to class discussion by recognizing the character's changes and how she deals with her problems with the help of her teacher. There are many questions that can be raised during reading this book. Some of them will include, “how did Chrysanthemum’s feelings about her name change throughout our story? Why did she not like school after her first day? What do you think of Chrysanthemums name? How do you think you would react if one of your classmates had a name that sounded strange or different to you?” The children should have compassion with the characters in the book and be able to make connections about these real life situations.

Activity: Students will conduct research at home about their own names. They will ask their parents or guardians to tell them the story of why they were given their own name. At home, they will write and decorate their names with a parent, and then include a sentence or two about their name’s origin (the parents may write this for the child, and read it with them.) The homework assignment will include an example for parents to see as a model, based on the teacher’s name. Children will share their name stories with classmates during share time.

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