Book Club Members: Katrina Tattoli, Sara Sepulveda, and Annmarie Forde
Book: The Blind Hunter by Kristina Rodanas
Summary: In the story, a blind man goes hunting with a traveler. The traveler asks him many questions, marveling at his ability to use other senses than sight to keep the couple out of danger. When they set traps and catch two quails, the traveler tries to take advantage of the man’s blindness by giving him the smaller one and telling him it’s the biggest. The blind man knows it’s a trick, and tells the traveler. In the end, they become friends and learn a lesson about morality.
How to use this book: I would use this book to teach awareness about disabilities, especially since in the beginning, the blind man is tending to his plentiful garden, something impressive for anyone despite ability level. It can also be used to discuss Africa, African folk tales, and adaptations, given that it is adapted from am African folk tale. It could be used to teach sharing, to talk about pictures matching words (they match perfectly in this book), to show community/friendship, and to teach about stealing.
Stages of Social Justice Education:
Self-love and acceptance- It can be used in a culture study unit, and students can learn to appreciate African culture if it is their own. It can also be used in a folktale unit with various folktales from the students’ own backgrounds.
Respect for others- Students can learn to respect people with disabilities and see them as able, functioning individuals. Students can do a character comparison between the traveler and the blind man, and see that both of them were valuable, and in this story, the blind man even more so.
Exploring issues of Social Justice- Students can use this book as a springboard for looking at perceptions of people with disabilities. We can use this book in comparison with others that only feature people with disabilities as peripheral characters, or only display characters in wheelchairs. They can look at the new MTV Show “How’s Your News?” and talk about how people react to interviews with people with disabilities.
Social Movements & Social Change- Students can learn about different social action organizations that exist in New York City and throughout the world, including Camp Jabberwocky, an outdoors summer camp for children with disabilities and the Special Olympics. This can help them understand that charities run by able-bodied individuals are not the only thing available to people with disabilities, and that there are many organizations run by people with disabilities trying to affect change. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1996 can also be discussed here.
Taking Social Action- Students can do a classroom library investigation and look at the way people with disabilities are portrayed in classroom books. This can be extended to the school library. Students can write letters, organize petitions, and raise awareness of stereotypes about disabilities that are being perpetrated in which texts. The students can also check if the local libraries or book stores have them, and can write a letter or send the petition to the owners/library director as well.