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

Mama Loves Me From Away

Mama Loves Me From Away

Mama Loves Me From Away
By: Pat Brisson, Illustrated by: Laurie Caple

Mama Loves Me From Away captures the relationship between mother and child during difficult times. The beginning of the story introduces readers to the young girl and her mother's special bond. As the story progresses, Sugar, the young girl, experiences a variety of emotions after her mother is sentenced to prison. This story shows how family members can stay in touch despite the distance between them.

I think that many families can relate to the ideas in this story. If a student in your classroom has a parent serving jail time, this text would be especially helpful. Also, if children were separated from their parents due to a divorce, the idea of this story could be used to help them understand that parents still love their children from far away. This book does not go into detail about why the mother is serving time. If you read this story to students, I think that it would be important to have a discussion about jail sentences and what it means to serve a sentence.

This book does not address the five stages of social justice. The ideas in this story successfully address the first three stages. The characters in this story allow readers to learn about the culture of a family and how it functions when a parent is far away. Students might not identify with the culture represented in the story, but they will most likely be able to strengthen their intercultural competence of the culture presented in the text. Related discussions about jails and jail sentences could explore issues of social justice/forms of oppression.

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