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.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Title: Darby
Author: Jonathan Scott Fuqua
Recommended for grades: 4-5
Buy it Here!
Find Activities/lesson plans for after reading the story here, under Darby.

Darby is a nine year-old girl that grew up in Marlboro County, SC. She lived on a farm and played with Evette, who was a little girl that lived in a house on her farm. Darby was white and Evette was African American. Evette loved writing and she convinced Darby to write articles with her for the local paper. Darby wrote the articles and Evette edited them. At first they wrote articles about little things that interested them. Later on in the story Darby is inspired to write about racial equality due to hearing about an African American boy get beat to death by a white man in her town. The story causes conflict in her town. Many of Darby's friends were banned from seeing her, and her family received horrible angry phone calls. The Ku Klux Klan started to cause trouble in town again, especially with Darby's family. Darby stuck with her beliefs in her article and her father supported her. After the Ku Klux Klan threw a brick through Darby's family's store window, Darby made a speech in front of the crowd that gathered. After hearing Darby speak, the town decided from that point on the Ku Klux Klan would not be tolerated. Little by little the towns people changed the town to make it more equal from both blacks and whites.

This book represents the sixth element of Social Justice Education, which is taking social action. The book shows how nine-year-old Darby believed that treating someone unfairly due to their race was not the right thing to do and she wanted to do something to change it. Darby was warned that her article would cause an uproar but she took on the challenge and published it because she wanted to make a difference. The book shows how children can take social action and help make changes. It may take time, like Darby's situation did, but in the end Darby did have an impact on the town and the uproar was well worth it.

One activity I would do would be to have the students choose one controversial issue they would like to change. I would have the whole class agree on an issue and an outcome. We would then plan in class how they as students could promote this change and make a difference. I would have the students write their own speeches on the issue, make posters for a class protest, and even an article they would want published in their town newspaper. We could then present the speeches, article, and posters to the rest of classes in their grade and get their opinion. If it was possible we could even pick a class article and see if the town newspaper would publish it.

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