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 Name Jar

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

Unhei, a Korean girl who just moved to America, is teased by the children on the bus for her Korean name. When she reaches her classroom and is asked her name on her first day of school, she tells her classmates that she has not yet decided on one. To be helpful the children put their suggestions into a "name jar." Eventually the girl decides to keep her own name as one of her classmates takes pride in the new Korean nickname he has chosen, Chinku, meaning "friend."

This book is connected to the first two rungs on the SJE ladder: self-acceptance and acceptance of others' identities. The message that this book carries would serve as a community-building tool at the beginning of a school year, in any classroom. Since Unhei is given a stamp that represents her original Korean name (meaning "grace") students could do a study on Korean characters, even using them to rewrite their own names and, further, acrostic poetry.

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