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 17, 2011

Terrible Things

Title: "Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust"
Author: Eve Bunting
Illustrator: Stephen Gammell
Grade Level: 1- 3

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Summary: Terrible Things, explores the social injustices of the Holocaust by using animals in a forest setting. The different types of animals, such as the birds, squirrels, rabbits, and frogs represent the groups of people that suffered through the Holocaust. When "the Terrible Things" come, they take away one animal group at a time, depending on certain characteristics they have. For example, the Terrible Things come and state, "We have come for every creature with feathers on its back." Little Rabbit and Big Rabbit are the main characters in the story. Little Rabbit is always questioning why the Terrible Things are taking the animals. For example he asks, "Why did the Terrible Things want the birds, what is wrong with having feathers?" Big Rabbit never asks questions and encourages Little Rabbit to not ask any either, his main focus is not making the Terrible Things mad. One line that Big Rabbit says is, "...but the Terrible Things do not need a reason, just mind your own business, we do not want to make them mad." As the story unfolds, all the animal groups are taken away by the Terrible Things. The only animal left is Little Rabbit who manages to hide under a rock. At the end of the story, Little Rabbit runs into to the lifeless, silent forest and thinks to himself that he wished everyone had stuck together because things would have been different.

Element 3: Terrible Things, by Eve Bunting is related to element 3 because it portrays the issues of the social injustices involved with the Holocaust. For any age, the Holocaust is a very complex and difficult topic to explore in World History. Eve Bunting's words and Stephen Gammell's illustrations make the Holocaust understandable for younger children. This book would make a great introduction to exploring the social injustices associated with the Holocaust, but would need to be followed with a factual account (age appropriate). Children can begin to understand how the oppressions and injustices of this historical event have shaped people's present day lives.

Activity: This book would make great introductory material for a lesson about discrimination. Before the book is read, a brief class discussion explaining and conversing about how each individual is different and these differences make everyone unique. After reading the book, children can get into groups to make a poster of what they would do if they were Little Rabbit in the story.

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