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

Uncle Jed's Barbershop

Uncle Jed's Barbershop

Uncle Jed's Barbershop
by Margaree King Mitchell
Illustrated by James Ransome

Uncle Jed's Barbershop is the story of Sarah Jean and her favorite uncle, Jed. Uncle Jed is the only Black barber in the county and he travels all over giving people haircuts while trying to save money so he can open his own barbershop. Though he faces many struggles (Sarah Jean getting sick, the Great Depression), he is eventually able to open his own barbershop and fulfill his dream.

I really liked this book because of the inspiring story it told. In addition to covering some of the domains of Social Justice, it tells about a man who has faced many hardships in his life, but still won't give up. He continues to persevere and eventually is able to open up his own barbershop, which was his lifelong dream.

I think that this book could be used in many ways. It is set in a different time period, and could cover the racial prejudices that were taking place in the 1920s and 1930s, when Sarah Jean got sick and couldn't be helped at the hospital until the white patients had been seen. It could also be used for the Great Depression. I also think that this could be used to talk about community, or with a younger class, different jobs/roles that people have.

Self-love and Acceptance - Sarah Jean learns about her community/culture from her uncle and is shown pride and perseverance.

Exploring issues of Social Justice - This book talks about racism, when the white patients are treated before Sarah Jean, and briefly mentions how Sarah Jean's family is lucky because they own some land, but that a lot of people are sharecroppers.

Social movements and social change - I think that Uncle Jed's struggle, even though it mostly effected him, was him moving for social change. At the beginning of the story they had to travel 30 miles to get a haircut, but since Uncle Jed started cutting hair and eventually opened his barbershop, it changed the community.

Uncle Jed's Barbershop at Barnes and Noble
Uncle Jed's Barbershop at Amazon

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