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

Silent Music

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdadby James Rumford

SUMMARYSilent Music: A Story of Baghdad is a beautifully illustrated picture book with a powerful message. Like many other children his age, Ali enjoys playing soccer, listening to music, and dancing. However his favorite thing to do is practice the art of calligraphy. Ali uses the beauty of calligraphy to bring him inner peace as he grapples with the devastation and terror of war. Detailed and intricate calligraphy bring the pages to life as Ali tells his story.

USE: This book would be a great read-aloud in a unit exploring different cultures and/or looking deeper into the effects of war. Additionally it highlights how one child living in a worn-torn area finds inner peace. This could be grounds for multiple forms of discussion ranging from the effects of war on individuals to how people find outlets to express what they are going through. This could potentially turn into a larger study on current events and the U.S.' involvement in the war in the middle east. Students can write journal entries and/or create a piece of art in the perspective of a child living in a war-torn area.

REFLECTION: The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful! It starts out rather simple, explaining the main character's hobbies and his fascination with calligraphy. The powerful message of this book is made apparent when Ali describes his experience with war and how he deals with consequential fright. The very end of the book has a very moving and beautiful metaphor about the ease with which we can fall into war and how difficult it can be to obtain a much needed freedom. Love it!


1. Self-love and Acceptance: Middle-eastern and Muslim students will learn a little more about their culture through this book, exploring the beauty of calligraphy and the effects of living in war-torn Baghdad.

2. Respect for Others: Students will learn more about middle-eastern and Muslim culture as they read this story.

3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students will start to become aware of the harmful and unjust effects of war as Ali describes the fear he experiences when bombs fall on his city.


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