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 Circle of Friends

A Circle of Friends by Giora Carmi

A Circle of Friends is an inspiring wordless book about a child (boy, girl...) who is looking out of the window. The next few pages show him receiving money from a guardian (mother, nanny, aunt...) and he arrives at a bakery to purchase a muffin (blueberry, chocolate chip, banana-nut...). As he's walking, he sees a man sleeping on a bench. The child leaves his bitten muffin next to the man, where the man wakes up and takes a bite out of the present from the child. The man notices some birds in the tree and a newborn bird, so he decides to leave some crumbs for the birds to retrieve. The birds accept the gifts and the baby bird flies down to meet the man. He gives him another gift, a seed, but the bird takes it and plants it in the child's window. This book demonstrates the full circle of good deeds taking a toll in various lives and the importance of caring for your neighbors.

I was worried when I first stumbled upon this book because it did not have any words for the story. It did not take me long to realize the beauty of the pictures alone because they told the story nice and clear without any words, but through the importance of actions. Though the reader may follow along with the story relatively easily, there is still some room for interpretation. This book opens the doors of awareness for the people in the community surrounding the readers, thus challenging the readers to think beyond themselves and for the people who deserve and need recognition because it goes a long way.

In the Classroom:
This book can be implemented into the classroom in many ways because the students can make their own dialogues and write their own stories. This encourages creativity and participation from the students. Students will also be introduced different social issues such as poverty and the environment. This book also challenges students to recognize the passing of time for each page and for them to imagine what is happening in between the pages. After reading this book, the teacher can apply many activities relating to the theme. First, teachers can ask the students to retell what happened in the book with their own words by describing the situation, the emotions, and the results. Second, teachers can introduce various social issues and make those into complete unites. Third, teachers can challenge students to 'Pay It Forward', like the movie, and have the students carry out a good deed to six different people. If there is time one day, the teachers may show the movie to the students so the students could see the potential ripple effects of their good deeds. Of course, the ending of the movie is going to cause a range of reactions and should be discussed with great sensitivity.

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