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.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Author: Jacqueline Woodson

Grade Level: 4th and 5th grade

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Summary:  Locomotion is a short novel written in poetic form from the perspective of eleven year old Lonnie Collins Motion.  Lonnie was affectionatley called Locomotion by his mother, who along with his father died in a house fire 4 years prior.  Lonnie's fifth grade class is learning about poetry.  Ms. Marcus, Lonnie's teacher, teaches Lonnie and classmates that poetry can be written in all forms and about anything.  The book Locomotion is a collection of poems written by Lonnie that gives the reader insight on the world around Lonnie, where he is from; his feelings of being sent to a different foster home from his younger sister; his perception of how he is viewed by his teacher, foster mother and others; and the love he has for his younger sister, lili.  Any students who has ever lost a parent; been in foster care or raised by someone other than their parents; grew up in an urban area; who wrote poetry in class; or who is still learning about themselves can identify with this book.

Element: Locomotion is a book that displays Element 1: Self-love and Knowledge.  Element 1 address who a character is and where they come from. Through Lonnie's poetry readers will be able to learn about his up bringing and life living in an urban area.  Lonnie talks about being in foster care, going to church and learning about God through his younger sister. Also in this short novel, Lonnie talks about a new kid who comes to the class from the south.  The few poems written about the new kid gives readers insight on who he is, where he was raised, how he is used to dressing and the dialect used. 

Activity: A poetry activity is very suitable for a book like Locomotion. In the book, Ms. Marcus encourages the students to write poetry to express themselves and the students especially Lonnie began to become confident writers and with their poetry they were able to be as creative as possible.  Teachers can instruct students to keep a poetry journal.  They will learn about different types of poems and creat their own poetry book with a theme of "Get to Know Me".  Each student will have their own collection of poems and by the time someone finishes reading the book they will know how the student is; where they grew up; their likes and dislikes; the students community; their up bringing and home life etc.  This poetry book will cover the theme of Element 1, self-love and knowledge.

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