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

Come Sit by Me

Come Sit By Me

Come Sit by Me - By Margaret Merrifield, M.D., and illustrated by Heather Collins


This book from 1990 is an excellent and valuable source for all our classrooms when dealing with the sensitive and hard topic of HIV/AIDS. The protagonist, Karen, wants to befriend Nicholas, the new boy at school who is kind of quiet. She does, and enjoys playing with him, though he is out sick a lot. One day, she comes home to ask her parents what AIDS is because a boy in the class told her Nicholas had it and that he was no longer allowed to play with Nicholas. Karen's parents encourage her to keep playing with Nicholas because it wasn't something she could catch, but then other boys and girls' parents won't let them play with Karen either. Fed up, her parents call a large meeting to disspell some of the stereotypes and fears people have on the topic of HIV/AIDS.
At the end of the book, there are colorful illustrations under the heading "YOU CANNOT GET HIV OR AIDS BY:" and then shows children playing, someone sneezing, people at a sleepover, etc. The page after that has a parent (or a grownup) guide to talking to students about AIDS.

Usefullness of the Text (Units/Curricula):
This is a great book for dealing with stereotypes, and also for a unit on discrimination, possibly a stretch to community building. Many children are given their parents' biased opinions on topics, and they really need a push to overcome them. Also, there is a chance one of our own students will have HIV (even though we're not allowed to know about it), and this could be a good book for them to see.

Social Justice Education:
I think mostly levels 3 and 4. This book is all about overcoming stereotypes, and everyone's attitudes towards the young boy with AIDs definitely changes.

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