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

Rickshaw Girl

Rickshaw Girl

Rickshaw Girl


This Chapter book focuses on a young girl, Naima, who lives in Bangladesh. The story focuses on her family's economic struggles due to the fact that her father is the only one in her family who can work due to cultural restraints against women making money. Naima is very frustrated with her inability to do anything to financially support her family. As a result, she decides to dress like a boy and take her fathers rickshaw in order to give her father a break from his long work hours. When this ends up making matters even worse, she is forced to be resourceful and use her skills at painting Alpanas, a Bangladeshi art, in order to make money for her family to repay the debt that she caused. The story integrates many aspects of the bangladeshi culture, and includes a glossary in the back explaining some of the terms that the book uses. 
I really like this book because it allows the students to be immersed in the culture of Naima. The language in the book is very descriptive and incorporates so much of the Bangladeshi culture, that it really helps the students feel like they are living in this culture. I also think it points out some very interesting factors surrounding cultural restrictions. Since, in the Bangladeshi culture women are not suppose to make a living, I think this would be a good way to discuss women's rights and cultural roles. 

How I Would Use This in the Classroom: 

This book is very useful in the classroom, not only is it a good read aloud for students either looking at the Bangladeshi culture, but also if they are focusing on women's rights and cultural restrictions. It would be interesting to compare this to either their own culture or another culture they have been studying. Another interesting activity I was thinking of would be to have the students in the class  go home and talk to an older member of their family or parents or grandparents about their own culture and ask if they had any restraints while growing up. This book would also be a really good book club book, because it does incorporate a lot of character development, while still exposing the students to the cultural aspects of the story. 

Social Justice Education:

This book can be viewed in many different stages of social justice. The main stage would be the Respect for others, because it really give the students a very descriptive view of the life in Bangladesh and the cultural beliefs in their society. The book also includes a lot of different cultural vocabulary words and gives a very descriptive analysis of those words in the glossary in the back. It even describes what a Sari is and how the women wore them, with a diagram of how to put it on. 
I also think that this book can fit into the Exploring Issues of Social Justice, because it does go into the idea of women's rights and how culture plays a role in that. Also, if you were to do the activity where the children looked at their own culture in comparison, it would touch on the first stage, Self-love and acceptance. I think this would be a really unique way to touch on this stage as well, because it would allow the students to compare their own culture to one that is more restrictive and unique in comparison to others. 

Where you can find this book:

This website has some great activities that you can use with this book-

Buy the book here or go to strand and get it for $4.95

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