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

A Chair for my Mother

A Chair For My Mother

About the Author
A Video

This books discusses the hardships that Rosa's family experiences after a fire destroys their apartment and possessions. Rosa lives only with her mother and grandmother, who all save their dimes and nickles until they can purchase a new comfy chair, that all three of them can use.Luckily, Rosa's family was able to rely on her neighbors to help them replace some items from their old apartment, but they were missing was a chair. The story begins with Rosa, a young girl, describing her mother's waitress job at the Blue Tile Diner. Sometimes after school Rosa also works side by side with her mother. Rosa and her mother place their earnings in a savings jar, but Rosa learns that not everyday is a good day for the savings jar. Then one day Rosa,her mother and grandmother all take their jars to the bank to cash, and go shopping for new a chair. The story ends with Rosa sitting on her mother's lap in the new comfy chair that all of them can enjoy. 

My response- I enjoyed reading this book because the story is not long but contains an important message for readers. The book has a clear beginning, middle, and end that allows students to predict what will happen next in the story. Many children don't have everything they need, I like how the story focuses one item that Rosa's family does not own. This story reminds us how friends and family can help us cope through tragic events. Also, I found the vivid illustrations an additional compliment to using this text. 

This book is a great stepping stone for " self love" and "respect for others" and "exploring issues" in Social Justice Education. For self-love, this book shows how three generations of African American women rebuild their lifestyle after a fire. Students learn about their community and how the women seek help from others in their community. The pictures raise students' awareness by observing that Rosa's family lives in an homogeneous community. 
For "Respect for Others," Students will learn that Rosa's family is struggling with finances,they are living pay check to pay check and decide to start for saving for a new chair. Students will be introduced to jobs that some may not view as professional. This book also raises questions about what defines a "family?" because Rosa has no father. For "Exploring Issues" Students will notice that Rosa's mother works long hours as a waitress but can't purchase the chair immediately. Rosa's mother works hard but does not receive adequate pay.

Activities- I would have students use mathematics with A Chair for My Mother to research specific jobs and their salaries wages through making a bar graph. Students will learn about the importance of saving and spending. It is necessary for students to understand that not everyone receives the same amount of money even if, they work just as long as some one else, like Rosa's mother. These various activities would allow students to begin taking social action on job wages and how not all are created equal.

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