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

Our Community Garden

Author/Illustrator: Barbara Pollak
Grade Level: K-3

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In this book, a child named Audrey Aubergine encourages her neighborhood to plant a garden for the community. Audrey lives in a very diverse area. Because of this, each of her neighbors contribute to the garden by planting items that are specific to their own culture, ethnicity, and personality. By planting this garden, the community not only gains the opportunity to spend more time with each other by planting and aiding in the flourish of the garden, but they also get to learn about the different cultures that encompass the neighborhood through the different foods they grow. At the end of the story, the community comes together and enjoys a potluck dinner in which each attendant cooks a different food from their culture, using the plants that they grew in the community garden.

Element 5: Raising Awareness

The book, "Our Community Garden" perfectly exemplifies element 5, raising awareness because in this story the main character, Audrey Aubergine encourages members of her community to plant something that is specific to them, and is meaningful to their culture and background. By doing so, Audrey is aiding in raising the communities awareness about one another and the backgrounds that each person within the community comes from. This act is extremely beneficial to the community because it allows them to learn from one another, and in that process brings them closer together.


A wonderful follow up activity to conduct with a class after reading this story would be to have the class as a whole come up with their own 'cultural cook book'. Students will be encouraged to ask members of their families the recipe of one of their favorite cultural dishes. Each student will be given a sheet of paper and be asked to write down the recipe, as well as draw a picture of the dish. After each student completes their page, as a class we will put it together in order to make a cultural cook book. After our cultural cook book is complete, a fun activity would be to have a class potluck in which each student is asked to bring in a small sample of the recipe they placed in our book, so each member of the class would get the opportunity to try it. This will give students a chance to become more familiar of the cultural backgrounds each member of the class is from, and get to know each other better.

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