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

The Orphan of Ellis Island: A Time Travel Adventure

The Orphan Of Ellis Island
Author: Elvira Woodruff 

Grade Level: 3rd-6th 

Summary:  On a class trip to Ellis Island, Dominic Cantori, an orphan, falls asleep on the trip. When he wakes up, there is no one there which leaves him scared.  When walking around looking for someone to help he picks up telephones in the display area and talks to the recorded voices of immigrants telling their stories.  To his amazement someone answers him.  Next thing you know he's traveled back into time, roughly to 1908 Italy.  He runs through a serious events which link him to his family's past.  Through these events he befriends two immigrants around his age and they try to make their way back to America.  The whole time trying to get back to America he goes through the struggles that Italian immigrants had gone through to come to America.  

Element:  The Orphan of Ellis Island displays Element 2: Respect for Others.  This element addresses respect others where classmates can learn about another's cultural background.  This book is about an orphan who didn't know much about his family and shows the hardships Italian immigrants had encountered on making their way to America.  When reading this in class, students will understand and learn to respect the cultural background that other students in the class may relate to.  Other Students can also relate to this and have a common ground with others because Italians weren't the only ones to come to America to look for better life.  

Activity:  You can use this book in your class if your unit or theme was about Immigration.  You can start off by giving a description of immigration and why immigrants came over to America.  Then after reading this book you can do a group activity with the class and you could be able to put it up in the class or outside on a bulletin board.  An activity you can construct would be to have your class draw up a big size ship that the immigrants came over from Italy to Ellis Island.  You can assign groups to your class and give them a specific parts of the ship to draw up.  You can start from the bottom of the ship and continue your way up to the deck.  With this assignment you can show the hardships they faced while being on the ship on its voyage to America. 

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