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


Iqbal by: Francesco D’Adamo

This is a chapter book telling the life story of a young boy named Iqbal Masih who is sold into slavery at a carpet factory in Pakistan. It is told through a young girl named Fatima who also has been sold into slavery. Iqbal’s brother was very sick, and his father had to sell him in order to pay the medical bills for his brother. The master of the factory explains a system of making tallies to account for debt, and erasing one each day to mark repaying the debt. Iqbal explains to all the children at the factory that even though the master promises he will releases them when they repay their debt, he intends to keep them all as his slaves, as do all masters who exploit children for their labor. Iqbal is an extremely gifted and talented carpet maker. The master, Hussain Khan, ordered Iqbal to complete an extremely difficult and rare carpet to sell at a high price. As Hussain Khan is showing the carpet to a perspective buyer, Iqbal slashes it. He is punished as all children are by being placed underground in a tomb. Shortly after this, Iqbal runs away to the village. There, he finds a man speaking about Pakistani Liberation Front. They are declaring a law banning child labor in Pakistan. He cannot get close enough to the stage to speak to the man, but he grabs the closest policeman and brings him back to Hussain Khan. Hussain Khan paid off the policeman and Iqbal was put once more back into the tomb. When he is released, he shows the other children a flyer he got from the liberation front. One child teachers them all to read, and they see when the speaker will be back in town. Iqbal escapes once more and brings two policeman, the head of the liberation front, and the magistrate. They raid the factory and free the children. The children are brought back to headquarters where they are cleaned and fed. Iqbal stays on with the liberation front and helps them by sneaking into other factories and places where children were still exploited to take pictures. He wins the Youth In Action award, only awarded to one child a year across the world. He also wins a scholarship to attend college in Boston. Then one day when he is in Pakistan visiting his family, he was killed in a drive by shooting. The other children from the carpet factory vowed to continue on Iqbals’ legacy in freeing all children in Pakistan.

How to use this book:
This book could be used in many different ways. It is recommended for ages 8-12, so about third to sixth grade. There are many different things to do with each grade. Any grade this is used for could be to fuel a social justice project on child labor, akin to the Fair Trade Chocolate project Dan’s class did. Students could explore issues of child labor all over the world. They could research countries that have not yet done away with child labor, and possibly contribute to their liberation front. They could also use this to discuss how child labor is a form of modern day slavery. It opens up many issues on civil rights and oppressions.

Social Justice Education Domains:
1: respect for others: Students learn to respect their own and each others cultures. They work together to explore issues in child labor; trying to liberate their peers.

2: Exploring issues of social justice: Students will research other countries that are still selling children into slavery.

3. Social movements and social change: Students will research how child labor has come to be and evolved over time, and how they can work to abolish it.

4. Taking Social Action: Students will work together to find a Liberation Front to work toward freeing children being exploited into child labor.

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