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

My Freedom Trip

My Freedom Trip

My Freedom Trip: A Child's Escape from North Korea
by Francis Park and Ginger Park
(Nathalie, Aminah, and April)
Summary: This book is about a young girl's journey to freedom in South Korea. Young Soo, a little girl living in North Korea, begins to realize that one by one her friends are missing from school. She discovers that they have made freedom trips to South Korea to escape the unjust limitations on their once enjoyed freedom. Soon Soo's family makes arrangements to escape with the help of a family friend. Her father goes first, leaving Soo and her mother behind. Next, despite a terrifying encounter, Soo successfully makes the trip to the freedom land. Her mother faces no such luck. Security tightens along the border and Soo's mother never gets to join her and her father in the freedom land-- South Korea.

Reflection: We love the illustrations in this book! My Freedom Trip is filled with beautiful brushstrokes and colors which effectively set the tone for each page. We also enjoyed being able to explore a little bit of Korean culture--learning different Korean words, characters, and games. Furthermore, we liked this book because it is a real account of someones struggle and journey to freedom. Although very sad at times, this book is real and ends in a bittersweet way.

Use: This book can be a great resource if doing a study on Korea or the conflict between the two hemispheres of Korea in Social Studies. It goes beyond mere fact and enters into a personal story. Other historical events like the Korean War can also be introduced. We also thought this book could be used in a writing lesson. The main character uses very descriptive language to describe the setting and a lesson on using such language can be beneficial to student writing. Additionally, this book can be part of a study on personal narratives and help students write their own real-life story.


Domains of Social Justice

1. Self-love and Acceptance: Korean students can learn about "who they are" and "where they come from" through this book. The beauty of Korean landscape as well as a few aspects of Korean culture are highlighted.

2. Respect for Others: Exploring Korean culture (games, words, characters, etc).

3. Exploring Issues of Social Injustice: Touching upon the injustice experienced by those living in North Korea.

5. Taking Social Action: The notion of fighting for you freedom, leaving the place you call home to attain it, is extremely powerful. While the book only talks about this one family, this could definitely be viewed on a wider scale, and the book can help initiate such conservation.

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