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.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our Community Garden

“Our Community Garden” by Barbara Pollak

This book geared for grades K-3 includes graphic and colorful pictures of a child who started a community garden next to her home. This garden is a place for her and her neighbors to grow different fruits and vegetables. Different characters grow different vegetables for food from their different cultures. The book includes characters from different ethnicities. This book encourages students to learn about their own culture and those of other cultures. This book exemplifies element 5 because this community garden gives the neighbors an opportunity to raise awareness about their culture and teach each other something new. For children this might be hard for them to understand. When they have an illustrated book teaching them about different cultures and foods it will get them more involved to learn about each other. The main character Audrey tries to raise awareness in her community about her neighbors and how they can come together.

Can be purchased online at Amazon

In a lesson you can teach students about a community garden and how beneficial it can be. If you go to this website it will have a lot of information about community gardens and how to implement one in school.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Love Your World

Title: Love Your World

Author: Dawn Sirett

Illustrator: Rachael Parfitt

Ages: 4-6

Summary: This book demonstrates eco-awareness and going “green” in words that children will understand. The author introduces the terms recycle, reduce, and reuse by showing different ideas for each one. It informs children to take care of the earth in variety of ways such as turning off the lights when it is not in use to growing their own garden with recycled containers. Furthermore, this book teaches children that we are not only taking care of the world but the animals and people that live in it. Children will enjoy the vivid and vibrant photographs in this book.

Social Injustice:
This book represents element six of social justice by providing several of ways to take action on an issue such as going “green.” It is important to introduce children in an early age to be aware that they can make a difference in the world. This book is a great way to demonstrate different ideas of taking care of the world by making a small difference in their community. Also, young children will learn that everyone in this world is worthy of making small changes no matter if they are big or small.

Here are some activities that can be done with this book:
In order to demonstrate eco-awareness to children you should begin recycling in the classroom. You could bring in bins and label it such as: paper, cans, plastic, and donate old clothes. You can, also, make copies of I promise to: from the back of the book. It has a list of several of ideas of what can be done to help take care of their environment and if they keep their promise they receive an award (that can be also found on the back of the book). Lastly, students can take action on this issue at their school. They can place recycling bin around the school and post up pictures of the importance of going “green.”

Here are some additional activities.
You can purchase this book here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand

Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand

Liz and Jay Scott with the help of Alex Scott
Age: All ages

This book is a great example of the power of one person with strong spirits and an enormous heart. Alex, just four years old is diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer. She knew she was very sick and told her parents she wished to create a lemonade stand in order to raise money to find a cure for "her illness". Her plan was to donate the money she raised to "her hospital" to help the doctors find a cure for all children with cancer. Through persistence, hard work and the strongest will imaginable, her idea eventually takes an entire nation by storm. The book itself is enjoyable to read with great illustrations and rhyming prose. This book serves as a sense of inspiration for children of all ages to make a difference. Though Alex passed away at the age of 8, her lemonade stands, now nationwide, have raised over $1 million dollars. To adults, the message is profound: how can we complain about our trivial problems when this child, who has such a difficult road to walk, has managed to turn her hardship into a desire to produce good for the world. We all have something to learn from Alex's book.

Social Action: Many schools have taken on the challenge Alex's Lemondae Stand, and creating their own stand to raise money for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation in the efforts to find a cure for childhood cancers.

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Listen to the Wind

Author: Gren Mortenson and Susan L. Roth

Illustrated/"Collages" By: Susan L. Roth

Grade: K-4

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This book tells a story of the children of Korphe, a little village in Baltistan in Pakistan. The children of Korphe live in the mountains. They did not have a school, so they had lessons outside and wrote with sticks on the ground. One day, a stranger by the name of Greg Mortenson stumbled into the Korphe's village while being lost. The children of Korphe fed Dr. Greg and gave him a bed. When Dr. Greg was well enough to go home, he asked the wisest man to help him think of something special he could for the the Korphe. He promised the children he would come back to the village and help build a school for them. One year later, Dr. Greg came back to the village with lumber, cement and tools that would be needed to build a school. They built a bridge to deliver the materials and after a few months, the children of Korphe had their very own school!

SJE: This book is the 6th social justice element. The children in the book were dedicated to finding a way to build their own school. Before their school was built, the children of Korphe had lessons outside and wrote with sticks on the ground. In Korphe, the teacher came just three times a week, and the students were expected to study independently every day. When Dr. Greg stumbled upon their village, he wanted to do something about their unfortunate predicament. The Korphe treated Dr. Greg so kindly, he was determined to think of something special he could do for them in return. He made the children a promise and put his desire to build them a school into action. Dr. Greg collected tools, lumber and cement to help build their school. Afterwards, he helped them build a bridge to help get the supplies to the mountain on the other side of the river. Over all, this book helps children understand how they can make a difference in their community (village) development and in the quality of their education. Dr. Greg and the children of Korphe felt passionate about education. He could see their interest in learning and wanted to make a change firsthand! He was able to provide a wonderful opportunity for the Korphe children and their village. The school was a success and the students and community were extremely pleased!

How I would use the book: I would use this book to help teach students that we shouldn't let anything stop us from helping others, especially those who have helped us. In the process of Dr. Greg getting better, he developed a strong love for the Korphe community. He had a passionate desire to repay them for everything they had done for him. In many realistic situations, we develop desires to take social action with issues that affect our communities. As a future teacher, I may consider using this book to brainstorm things we can do to improve our own community.

Teacher Lessons:

Ariella Luberto

77 Creative Ways Kids Can Serve

Title: 77 Creative Ways Kids Can Serve

Author: Sondra Clark

Ages: 9-12
Teacher resource: Volunteer Opportunities
Summary: 77 Creative Ways Kids Can Serve is an excellent resource for kids to learn different ways they can help in their communities. There are literally 77 suggestions, each with steps for implementation, that are divided into different categories depending on the child's interest and/or talents. Websites are also provided so that kids can find additional information on each project.
Social Justice Element Six: This book is intended to give kids the neccessary tools that they need inorder to partcipate in or even start their own community service projects. It is a great tool that teachers can use to help inspire their students to take social action in their communities.
How I Would Use It: One way that I might use this book would be to have groups of four or five students choose a project from the book to complete together. I would provide the necessary resources for students to successfully complete their projects. Another way I might use this book would be to let students pick a project from the book individually, which would allow students to take ownership of their choice. for both cases i would have students give a presentation on how the project went, what obstacles they found during the process, and how they might do the project differently if given a second chance.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Kid's Guide to Service Projects

Title: The Kid's Guide to Service Projects

Author: Barbra A. Lewis

Ages: 9-12

Buy It Here:

Summary: The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects is filled with ideas and service projects for subjects ranging from politics and government to the environment. The pages are filled with in-depth procedures and organizational tips for anything from a small class project to a large-scale community event. The Kids Guide to Service Projects is separated into sections based on the topic, and under each topic, contains multiple different ideas to make a change ranging from awareness campaigns to fundraising. The book empowers readers to become active in their communities and emphasizes that young children have a voice too, and can make a difference in the world.

Social Justice Element 6: The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects is an excellent source for students to gather ideas of how to make a change in the world. With Taking Social Action being the final stage of the Six Elements of Social Justice, students have already learned of current issues and this book is a perfect finisher to connect social issues and solutions together for students. The book holds 15 different topics including senior citizens, hunger, homeless people, the environment, and many more with helpful hints and great ideas to make a difference with these issues. Though the ideas provided are very useful and well thought out, students and teachers can alter them to better fit certain circumstances or situations.

How I’d Use It: This book can be used for so many different projects and lesson plans. With its 15 different topics, it is sure to cover some aspect of what students wish to make a change in, but if indeed it does not have a specific topic students are interested in, the book gives so many ideas that can easily be altered or mixed to integrate a different topic of interest. In closure, I would introduce a new issue to my students and have them research and learn more about this topic, and use this book as a wrap up to take their knowledge to the streets and make change.


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