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

Choices and Decisions: Dealing with Racism

Choices and Decisions: Dealing with Racism. Modern Issues that Affect You by Pete Sanders and Steve Meyers

Summary: This is by and large the best book ever.  Just kidding.  But it is really, really great.  It is not a story book nor it is a traditional non-fiction or historical book.  Rather, it is a rich resource and wealth of not only information but outlets for students to think critically and develop their own ideas about dealing with racism.  As the book follows a comic-book narrative about a young girl who is the target of racism, the story becomes more complex, examining the roots of hate in history, in individuals, and how it affects everyone.  Opposite every comic-book page is a different informative and thought-provoking page, providing questions, answers, and other tools to create meaningful discussion in the classroom.

Reflection: I am obsessed with the book and want the others in the series.  I am so thrilled to find that there is a resource like this out there.  It does not beat around the bush, it is direct and speaks to children as thinking individuals.  However, children are able to relate to the content.  It is not only speaking about one race of people or focusing just on one aspect of racism, but rather, it addresses how racism affects everyone, and it seems like the book's only agenda is to let kids know that as of now, racism is part of our world but it is unacceptable, and this is what you can do about it.  Finally, I love that the book, in the title, acknowledges that racism is a modern issue.

Classroom uses: I think that an entire unit could be based upon this book, especially during the non-fiction TC unit.  I also think that this book would make excellent handouts, and also scripts for role-play in the classroom.

Stages of Social Justice: This book hits 'em all!  One cannot read this book without examining their own racial identity and also levels and roots of prejudice, but also, the final chapter is full of helpful links and ideas to help kids become agents of change.

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