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, October 3, 2011

Amazing Grace

Author: Mary Hoffman
Illustrator: Caroline Binch
Grade Level: 1st

Summary: Grace is a young African-American girl with a great imagination and a passion for performing. When Grace's teacher tells the class that they will be performing Peter Pan, Grace can't wait to audition for the lead- until students tell her that she can't because she is a girl and she is black. Grace tells her family about her classmates' words and Grandma decides to do something about it. After Grace's grandmother brings her to the ballet and shows her a poster of a prima ballerina from her native country, Trinidad, Grace realizes that she can do anything she puts her mind to- just in time to win the lead as Peter Pan!

Element 1: Amazing Grace relates Self-Love and Knowledge because Grace learns to take pride in herself for who she is as a girl and as an African-American. By seeing a Trinidadian girl as the prima ballerina, Grace realizes that she too can accomplish her dreams. The book teaches children that they can dream beyond the cultural and gender stereotypes of society.

Activity: A great activity for this book is to have students create their own "prima ballerina" posters, like the one Grace saw of the Trinidadian dancer, but instead putting themselves as the stars. Students can use this model and create a poster of who they wish to be: a soccer player, a scientist, a musician, a doctor... the list goes on! By doing this, children will not only show understanding of the story, but also build on elements of self-love and pride.

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