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.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass
 Author: Catherine A. Welch 
Illustrations: Lerner Publications Company
Grade Levels: Kindergarten-Grade 2

Summary: This biography is written about Frederick Douglass. He was an African American man who escaped slavery. His encouraging speeches led other men, women, and children to freedom. This book encompasses the horrors of slavery and the pain Douglass had to endure during early 1800's. Fredrick's life is exposed and illustrates his dream of freedom, literacy, and rights for all including women. He was a passionate leader and speaker who involved himself with President Lincoln to create equal rights for blacks. A violinist, author, father, and husband, Fredrick Douglass finally helped free the slaves and assisted in making the country a better place.  

Element 4: Frederick Douglass started his life as an average slave. Determined to abolish slavery, Frederick understood the wrongs done to him and African Americans through real life experience and reading literature about freedom. Douglass believed it was worth risking his life to speak on behalf of others who could not. Little by little, Frederick Douglass proved that black men and women were just as smart as white people. This book is a true example illustrating by putting effort towards the better good, positive impacts on society may be made. By recognizing that there were crimes committed against humanity and taking action with others, Frederick Douglass made a severe impact on the equality of man. This demonstrates societal movement and change and is well represented in Frederick Douglass by Catherine A. Welch.

Activity: For school aged children, a great activity would be to have each child speak about a positive point from their own heritage. The children could make a poster to hang in the classroom on the topic of their choice. This way, the students can see that everyone is special in their own ways and that each child should be proud of who they are. Then they can do a follow up research on a man, woman, boy, or girl from their cultural or ethnic background who did something, big or small, and have a group discussion of their findings.

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