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

Peace Crane

Peace Crane

Author: Sheila Hamanaka

Summary: A girl questions the world for a chance at peace, "for a world without borders, of a world without guns, of a world that loves its children". As crane's are a symbol of long life in Japan, the girl in the book sends her paper crane throughout the world and remembers the good she has seen in the world, along with the bad. This story is based onSadako Sasaki's belief that if you fold a thousand paper cranes, you will be granted your wish for health. The story gives a brief history of the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan and Sadako's story.

Reflection: The book has beautiful illustrations that are coupled with poetic lines and verse that tell this story. We follow the journey of a peace crane throughout the book and see wherever it goes peace or health is restored. Yes, this sounds mythic and optimistic, but I think the book sends a message of hope for children who are constantly questioning their world. This book tries to inspire children to take initiative and make a change in their environment.

  1. This would be a good book to couple learning about the history of war, such as WWII, or the history of Japan, or learning about unfairness and violence in the world.
  2. Students can think about their injustices in their communities and make a list. A discussion can follow asking how students can make social change about these injustices. Students can write their idea for social change on a piece of paper and will make a paper crane out of it. The cranes will hang in the classroom to remind students of their ideas, and the teacher can facilitate helping children take action.
  3. The book can be used to integrate social studies and poetry. The book has wonderful poetic lines, and is presented in poetic verse. It is a great example of description in writing.
Social Justice Curriculum: This book focuses on stages 1, 2, 3, and 5.

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