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

Through My Eyes

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges

  • 1. "Through My Eyes" is a nonfiction, first-person account of Ruby Bridges' experience of integrating William Frantz Public School. Bridges begins with a preface to her story, giving a description of her family life and childhood previous to her experience. At first, her father did not believe equality and change would ever come; her mother, on the other hand was convinced that Ruby receiving the best education possible was worth the risk. Eventually, Ruby recalls her first day at Willian Frantz (being escorted into the school by US Marshalls), her days spent with her teacher Mrs. Henry (Ruby was the only child in the classroom, since most of the white students' parents insisted they be removed from having contact with Ruby) and the riots in New Orleans occuring at the time of this Civil Rights Movement. I really enjoyed this book because it is filled with photographs of all of the real people involved as well as anecdotes and letters recalling exactly what was happening at this groundbreaking moment in history (letters from Mrs. Henry, newspaper stories, John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, and John Steinbeck). Even though this is a nonfiction work, Ruby Bridges is characterized as a strong, brave person who faced more challenges at seven-years-old than most people everhave to face in a lifetime.
2. I can think of many way to use this book in a classroom, first being to use it as a research tool in document-based research. I think it would also serve as an excellent model for students to create their own personal biographies "Through My Eyes" as a beginning of the year exercise to illustrate their own backgrounds. Since this book has so many ways of presenting information, students would be able to account their own histories in any form, whether it be poetry, photography with captions, narratives, or yes even comic strips. I also envision allowing students to personify other people from history an writing from their perspective while researching about that person's life. As a final presentation we could create a class "Living Wax Museum" and students would dress as that person and read their narrative.
3. This falls into social justice education because it informs students about the Civil Rights Movement from an eye-witness' point of view. There are also many other perspectives shared throughout the book, lending to the idea that there are always many sides to one story (i.e. Ruby's father believing that Ruby should not integrate at first). This story would fit perfectly with the activity we did in class about integration, assigning roles to different groups and making an argument for or against integration. This book directly connects and relates to the Social Studies unit of Civil Rights.

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