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, February 11, 2012

All Souls: A Family Story from Southie

Author: Michael Patrick MacDonald
Grade Level: 8

Buy it here!

Summary: A native of the Old Colony projects of South Boston, author Michael Patrick MacDonald shares the shocking contradictions of living in this fiercely loyal Irish-American neighborhood afflicted by poverty, racism, violence, and death. Growing up in the 1970s, MacDonald and his siblings battled the temptations of gangs and drugs, the politics of school segregation and busing, and the stereotypes of poverty and culture.

Element: Two - Respect for Others
All Souls provides a first hand look into a dynamic neighborhood rife with the issues of poverty and racism. For some students, regardless of ethnic background or location, the themes of MacDonald's memoir will hit home. For others, the text will expose them to alternative perspectives and force them to question their own beliefs or stereotypes about the rich and poor and the black and white. After reading, students will emerge with a new sense of respect and empathy for others.

Activity: All Souls presents a perfect opportunity for students to access prior knowledge before reading. Using an Anticipation Guide, teachers present students with a worksheet that includes several statements about key concepts presented in the text. Students can choose to agree or disagree with the statements. Statements for All Souls could include: "Busing was a fair way to integrate public schools." "People born into a culture of poverty are powerless to escape it." Anticipation Guides stimulate students' interest in a topic and set a purpose for reading. Throughout reading, students may return to the Anticipation Guide to see if their opinions have changed.

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