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.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Earth Book for Kids: Activities to Help Heal the Environment

Author: Linda Schwartz
Illustrator: Beverly Armstrong
Grade Level: 4th-5th

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Summary:    This book by Linda Schwartz and The Learning Works is an excellent educational tool which seeks to not only inform students about threats to the environments and habitats of the planet Earth, but also to show them how they can work together to combat these threats.  The book is divided into four sections that introduce and explore energy use and recycling, pollution, habitat loss, and green living.  Each section gives students a background into a certain area of conservation and points out environmental risks and damage caused by companies and individuals.  In the end of each section children are given multiple exploratory experiments and projects to complete in order to help them to see firsthand what is being done to the environment and what they can do to help.

Element 6:    This book not only introduces students to areas of environmental challenges that affect them and their communities, but more importantly it gives them the instruction on how take action and have Social Justice served.  Since the environment affects us all I felt the subject matter of this book was important.  Thinking and living green is a critical part to growing up in the 21st century.  The author did a fine job relating different instances of environmental degradation within the context of elementary school students' lives.  She also included addresses to many of the major proactive environmental advocacy groups across the nation.  Included as well is a chapter that details how to contact one's federal government representative, thereby helping to prepare the students to execute their social action.

Activity:     Keeping with the "Go Green" theme many school districts are promoting I would use three parts of this book to help my class perform a social action.  At the beginning of my unit I would have the class choose from one of the numerous activities/ science experiments in the text that represented environmental challenges that their city or state faced.  Then I would have the class contact one of the nearer environmental advocacy groups listed in the back of the text in order to obtain official statistics and current news on the topic.  Finally, building on the fact that the class has had firsthand experience of their own in the "laboratory" and also knowing they have been equipped with data and advice from experts in the field I would have the class send a letter to their local congressmen.  The letter would voice the class's concern about the specific issue and express the social action, whether law, funding, publicity, or recognition, they requested be taken.


  1. When we talk about the kids activities, I like a little competition, but as a child I found some activities too competitive. I still don't like Monopoly or checkers or chess.