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.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Anansi the Spider

ANANSI THE SPIDER adapted and illustrated by Gerald McDermott

Anansi goes out on a tricky journey and finds himself at the mercy of Fish and Falcon. One of his six sons See Trouble; who can see trouble a long way off sensed that his father was in danger. He calls upon his five brothers; Road Builder, River Drinker, Game Skinner, Stone Thrower and Cushion to follow him so they can help their father. Each son uses his skill to save AnansiAnansi is so proud that when he finds "A great globe of light," he wants to reward his son, the one who rescued him, but which son? Anansigoes to Nyame, "The God of All Things" and asks for guidance.Anansi and his sons begin to argue over who should get the reward. Nyame sees the bickering within the family and decides to keep the light in the sky for all to see. 
A note from the Prologue:
"Folklore...Mythology...A people's legends...Traditional in Africa. Mythology transforms, making the ordinary into the magical. It brings beauty to the ways of man, giving him dignity and expressing his joy in life. Folklore prepares a man for adult life. It places him within his culture. With oral traditions, retold through generations, the social group maintains its continuity, handing down its culture.
My Thoughts:
I was drawn to this book for many reasons. In particular, I feel that it expresses the importance of tradition, culture and the overall idea that its okay to depend on people and your family at times of distress. So often we try to fix things alone, while independence is important, but there are so many ways in which people can lean on one another to strengthen that independence. This book covers two social justice domains; self-love and acceptance, as well as, respect for others. 
In the Classroom:
- Generating conversations that may include one or more of the following: family, tradition, culture, helping others, something the student is good at, feelings, etc...
- Students can begin to think of a time when they needed help and were afraid to ask for it. From there they can build on their thoughts to think of how the situation could have turned out if they had received help from others.
- This book can be an introduction to a cultural studies curricular unit, tying in other countries that have cultural traditions. 
For more information on Anansi adventures google: Anansi Folktales
To purchase this and other Anansi books: 

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