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, March 1, 2011

This Is the Dream

Title: This Is the Dream
Author: Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander
Illustrator: James Ransome
Grade Level: 1st-2nd grade 
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Element 3: Issues of Social Injustice

Summary:  This book is about how the world was such a segregated place. It took us through a time line that “colored” people had to experience simply because of their skin color. Separate fountains, sitting in the back of the bus, color specific restaurants, separated sections in the library, and separated seats in classrooms are some of the things African Americans had to unfortunately experience. The book then begins to show some hope and presents the steps people took to make a change in the world. African Americans did everything to stand up for themselves, including protesting. Some leaders that had powerful voices that made a change include Ella Baker, Walter White, Thurgood Marshall, and Dr. Martin Luther King. These people have made a difference, and by the end of the book, color did not matter anymore. Fountains were shared, it didn’t matter where you sat on the bus, there were no rules for restaurants, libraries did not have any segregated rooms, and everyone was treated equally in a classroom. It took some courage for them to go through these hard times and make a change in the world forever.

Element 3: Exploring Issues of Social Injustice: This Is the Dream really showed the history of racism. African Americans were not treated correctly simply because of the color of their skin. They had a rough time living through racist remarks, actions, and other horrible events just because they were dark. The book really showed how they were unequally treated before the civil rights movement, and this brought courage and motivation to some people who began to protest, and make their voices heard. This issue of racism was really big, and the passion for change was in the air. Thanks to a dream of equality, we are now a diverse world that lives to treat others equally. 

Activity: An activity I would hold with my students is to have them sit in groups of 5, and give each group an index card with a racist action that occurred to African Americans years ago, such as having separate fountains, sitting in the back of the bus, etc. Each student will receive a sheet of paper with questions listed on it pertaining to how they would feel, and what they would do if they were in that situation, and what they would do to make a change. They will silently answer the questions, and then we will hold a discussion on what racism is, and why it’s wrong.

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