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.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Child of the Civil Rights Movement- Element 4

  • Title: Child of the Civil Rights Movement
  • Author: Paula Young Shelton
  • Illustrator: Raul Colon
  • Purchase the book here.
  • Find more information about the author and book here.
  • Element Four: Social Movements and Social Change
  • Summary: Paula, a young girl. discusses what her life was like during the civil rights movement. Paul reflects on her past memories of marches and protests. Although she was born in New York, she deeply describes her parents moving back to Atlanta to be with other colored people and to fight for their rights. Paula's father, Andrew Young, a civil rights leader and ambassador, would travel on many occasions to protest and march. Paula remembers many times when her father would go to jail or be beaten because of what he was doing for their family. She also explains many scenarios where her family was not granted the same rights at the "whites." One in particular was at a restaurant. The host would not sit Paula's family even though there were plenty of open tables. Paul sat and the floor and threw a temper tantrum because she was so hungry. That was her way of protesting. Paula's extended family and friends would come over for dinner on a weekly basis where they would play music and dance and enjoy time together. Paula explained that that was their way of having fun. In the last portion of the book Paula describes the march from Selma to Montgomery. Everyone in her family marched, even Paula at the young age of 4. It took all the marchers about four days to make it to Montgomery. The final page of the book describes the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Paula remembers her family watching President Johnson sign the bill that would make all people eligible to vote. 
  • This book is great example of element four because it discusses ways in which every day people marched and protested for their rights. This was a major event in American history. Paula and her family, along with friends and neighbors, fought through the negative words and actions that the white people would say/do. Paula and her family were fighting for their rights.  These were everyday people standing together to fight for their freedom, addressing social injustices, and uniting together to make changes in history.
  • Grades 4-6: As a future teacher, I would read this book to my students. I would also try to incorporate popcorn style reading so the students are involved. I would try to find other books about the civil rights movement that were told in children's perspectives, like Paula did in this book. After reading many children's perspectives, I would ask my students to think of a major event that we discussed in the children's narratives and try to imagine if you alive during this time. I would ask them to make and write a short picture book revolving around a major event. I would ask them to include details and dialogue that might have taken place during this event. I would try to incorporate the language arts standards about characters, setting, place etc. As well as the social studies standards about laws and rights of individuals.

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