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

The Empty Pot

The Empty Pot

Title & Author:

The Empty Pot by Demi

Purchase & More Info:
Barnes & Noble
Summary:The Empty Pot is a story about a boy who wants to be the Emperor'ssuccessor. The Emperor announces that in order to select a successor, he will distribute seeds to all the children in the land, and whoever grows the most beautiful flowers from them will be his successor. All year long the boy cares for his seeds, yet nothing grows. On the day they must bring their flowers to the Emperor, the boy brings him an empty pot while all the other children have beautiful flowers to offer. The Emperor chooses the boy as his successor because all of the seeds he gave the children were cooked and they all were liars.
My Response:
The Empty Pot is a okay book in my opinion. I didnt see any signs of racism in the story or in the illustrations, but that is also because it is a folk tale. I had the discussion with my book group about whether or not the illustrations are racist if they are depicting a much older time period. I think it is an interesting question and am not very sure of the answer to this. I think this book could be an okay starting point for discussions about different cultures.

In The Classroom:
While I liked the story, it can only serve as a Level 1 of SJE in the classroom. It is a good source of showing differences, and can be a good starting point on a discussion about who controls our history and such. As a folk tale that essentially teaches about honesty, why do we never hear of this, yet stories like The Boy Who Cried Wolf are so prevalent in our culture? I guess you could also turn this into some sort of political discussion about how Emperors used to rule, but this is a stretch and doesnt really make much sense from this book.

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