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, September 8, 2008

Because of Winn-Dixie

Because of Winn-Dixie

The book I chose was Because of Winn- Dixie By Kate DiCamillo. Because of Winn- Dixie is a book about a girl named Opal who lives with her father, a preacher. She has recently moved to a new town and has no friends. Opal finds a dog, Winn Dixie, who , with a smile always on his face seems to attract people which helps Opal make friends. Opal 's friends are a very eclectic group ranging from the "witch" to a musically gifted mentally disabled man who spent time in jail. Opal learns what is really important in life and how important it is not to make judgments about people without getting to know them.
Because of Winn-Dixie
 not only tells a delightful story, but also it addresses several socially sensitive and pertinent issues that many young people encounter today. The story includes references to alcoholism, prejudice, the elderly, death, single-parent families, and the importance of community.
This book is a great book to use to teach children about social issues as well as literacy Kate DiCamillo uses the main character's inner voice, a strategy that students are introduced to during writing. This book is a heart wrenching book. It can be easily used by teachers for not only literacy, but also to help the students reflect about their own life as well as the lives of others and see how they intermingle. The students are encouraged to question the reasoning behind many of the authors seemingly simple characters and events for they often can be understood at a much deeper level.
This book fits almost all levels of social justice because it discusses people's differences, prejudices, and ends with Opal taking social action. She plans a party for all her new friends to attend and thus brings all the townspeople together allowing them to see for themselves the dangers of judging others too quickly.
Examples of curricular units could be writing realistic fiction, symbolism, social interaction/peer relationships.,,,

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