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 Gardener

The Gardener

The Gardener
By Sarah Stewart

This picture book is told in the format of letters of a girl named Lydia Grace. Through her letters, we find out that her dad hasn't been working and that her mother's business is failing, and her uncle needs her to come live with him in the city for a little while. She is unsure of what to expect, because her only skill is gardening. It's a wonderful tale of Lydia Grace always receiving bulbs and seeds from her Grandmother and mom back home. As each letter is sent from Lydia Grace, she continues to tell her family the progress she is making with Uncle Jim by helping his business and trying to make him smile. She continues to grow flowers everywhere in the city until finally she creates an entire garden on the roof of his building in the city.

This story, although unlike the other stories in this blog, is a short picture one and geared toward the younger grades. Students can learn how talents in another place can be of use. Lydia Grace only had one thing she was confident about, which was gardening. Though she was unsure of what to do or expect when living with her Uncle Jim, she found her happiness through doing what she knew how to do. In the city, which is where these students are from (most of them living in apartment buildings in Manhattan) - students can explore the joy and beauty of urban gardening. I thought it was a short great picture book story to introduce youngsters to urban gardening. Social justice ideas are difficult to grasp, especially for the younger students like in kindergarten. Some have probably never even heard of gardening or seen gardens. It allows them to stretch their imaginations to the idea of urban gardening - and perhaps the teacher then can go over the idea of it, thoughts on why people garden, the importance of gardening, and the value of gardening in the city.

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