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

Hey You! C'mere a Poetry Slam

Hey You! C'mere A Poetry Slam

Hey You! C'mere A Poetry Slam by Elizabeth Swados

Website to find more information and purchase the book:

In Hey You! C'mere, seven children describe their neighborhood using free-verse, rap-style poems. Each child describes a different element of their life using spoken word. Readers get a glimpse into the children's urban lifestyles as they describe different aspects of their lives including a mother's phone conversation, interactions with tough kids, and summertime in the city.

When I read this book, I could hear the children's voices. I could see them performing the poetry aloud, rapping with others, sharing theirexperiences, ideas, and lives. This book would be a great way to introduce students to the art of poetry. It would also expose children to spoken and written word. I think students would be able to relate to the subjects and styles of the poetry and would therefore be more interested in learning and creating poetry. Having students create and share their own poetry, and then allowing them to participate in a poetry slam of their own, would be a great way for them to express themselves and learn about one another. Students would also learn that there is personal expression in poetry, and that there can be purpose in the messages created by poetry. Reading this type of poetry, and having students share their own creations, would also be a great way to learn about different cultures, customs, and values.

Using this book in the classroom would allow students to move into the first and second level of Social Justice Education. By reading and writing poetry about themselves and their peers, students are learning about their own cultures and that of their peers. They are also learning to understand and accept their own lives, as well as those of others. Poetry could also be a great way to move into the third level of Social Justice Education which involves exploring issues such as racism, classism, and sexism. Reading poetry from different authors such as bell hooks, Langston Hughes, and Tupac, would allow students to explore issues of social justice. Reading and learning about different forms and types of poetry also lends itself to the fourth level of Social Justice Education. Through poetry, students could learn about how people have struggled for social change. By creating and sharing their own creations, students are taking social action and are moving into the fifth level of Social Justice Education; they are developing tools to create change.

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