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.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Grandma's Pride

Author:  Becky Birtha
Illustrator:  Colin Bootman
Grade Level: 2 - 5
Buy it here!

Summary:  Becky Birtha's children's book Grandma's Pride, invites readers to a fictional story of social issues regarding segregation in the 1950's.  This story follows the experiences of two sisters who visit their Grandmother in the south at a time in America's history where segregation was still a prominent aspect of life.  Throughout their time in the south, the sisters experience their Grandmother's acceptance (which may be viewed as attempts at justification) of segregation while using public transportation, using certain water fountains and conforming to the norms around town.  After returning to their home in the north,  the girls become more educated on social issues regarding segregation and the changes toward civil rights.  When the girls return to their Grandmothers house, they use their new found knowledge of the world around them to question the actions of those in their Grandmother's neighborhood.  With this, the girls take the step of sitting at the front of the bus- exercising the realization of their rights.

Element 4:  Grandma's Pride beautifully illustrates the goals of the 4th Element.  In Element 3, we strive to identify and discuss the injustices that exist (or have existed) in our society.  Birtha not only discusses these elements, but takes it a step forward.  One may speculate that it may have been a sufficient to explain the events happening at this time in history. However, when the girls return to the south the next summer, they not only posses their knowledge of civil rights, but utilize it as well.  To explain in a children's book that something can be done with knowledge of a social issue is detrimental to student's learning- and is an important factor which can potentially lead to raising awareness to others (Element 5).

Activity:  This book would be an beneficial tool to use within an elementary school classroom to highlight the ways children can initiate a change.  In the book, we are left with the impression that the girls began to plant the seed of change in their grandmothers life.  After reading Grandma's Pride,  students may be prompted to pretend they are the children visiting their grandmother in the south.  Using art, students would create a flyer or newsletter which would be handed out to members of the grandmother's community (flyers may even be handed out and posted around the classroom!).  These flyers, which would highlight civil rights, would give students a glimpse into ways children are capable of initiating and beginning change on a community based level.

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