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, April 2, 2013

That's Not Fair! Emma Tenayuca's Struggle for Justice/ No Es Justo! La Lucha de Emma Tenayuca por la Justicia

Title: That's Not Fair! Emma Tenayuca's Struggle for Justice/ No Es Justo! La Lucha de Emma Tenayuca por la Justicia
Authors: Carmen Tafolla and Sharyll Teneyuca
Illistrator: Terry Ybanez
Grade: K - 2

Buy it Here!! Even has a Kindle version!!
Background information about the authors, illustrator, and main character
Teacher Resource (Video)

This book is a true story of how a little Mexican-American girl from San Antonio in the 1920's -1930's who helped to raise awareness of the poverty and starvation hitting her people. Emma Tenayuca leads the first major Mexican-American movement to eliminate their struggles because of long hours and cheap labor her people do. Emma first noticed injustices as she walked to school one day. she saw a mother with a thin shawl and a crying baby. She also saw three little boys who were sharing food, she thought this might be the only food they have all day to eat. After school she returned home and saw her neighbor maria. Maria informed Emma that she didn't know how to read because she was never at school very long. This was because of her family moving to plant and harvest different crops. Emma didn't think any of these disadvantages to be fair because she had so much and they had so little. Emma talked to her grandfather about it and how unfair it really was. He took her around town looking at what disadvantages really are there for fellow Mexican-Americans. He said to Emma, "Sometimes things are not fair. But, still, each one of us can usually do something about it, even if its just a little thing." This truly changed Emma's life. When she was a teenager she was present at different protests and at 21 she organized a walk out at a pecan factory who was paying incredibly low wages to their Mexican-American workers. 12,000 people for nearly two months did not work. This caused the Pecan factory owners to raise the wages. Emma had given the poor a voice and had improved their lives a little bit more. 

Element 4: Social Movement and Social Change
Emma Tenayuca helped in the first Mexican-American movement in the United states. This story is able to show children that no matter your age you can do anything for anyone. Emma as a child helped her local community. She gave some food, clothes, and reading lessons to those in the community. As a teenager she learned the art of protesting and negotiation to achieve the goal at hand. Emma at 21 arranged a walk out when the business owners would not hear her pleas to arrange higher wages. Students reading this book or basing a lesson on this book will help to have students feeling empowered to know someone who was their age went out and did something about the wrongs she saw in society. 

The students, like Emma, can find different disadvantages that have happened in their own cultural pasts and how they overcame them. They can also look at their own communities at things they would like to change and why. This could be done like Emma and her grandfather. They looked at different houses in their communities and jobs in their communities. If it is allowed the teacher could even go with the students to look. Depending on the community some disadvantages may be less apparent but even something simplistic to make the students lives better would be a win win situation. 

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