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.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why Are You So Sad?

Author: Beth Andrews
Illustrator: Nicole Wong
Grade Level: K-3

Buy it here!

Summary: The story “Why Are You So Sad?” is about the hardships that a person may go through with depression and how that can also affect their family members. It describes one family’s struggle with this mental disorder and gives advice, treatment options and coping strategies for both the ill person and the child. It explains everything about depression from what the sick person may be experiencing to how they act and what they can do for help. The authors explain this hard topic very reassuringly by mentioning that it is not the child’s fault and no one is to blame. The book also gives blank picture pages for the children to draw images about how they feel, what they see in their sick family member, and other favorite people that they can talk to through this confusing time. There are notes at the end of the book that have a lot of information and contacts for the families that are going through this rough period.     
Relationship to Element 5: Element 5 is all about raising awareness. “Why Are You So Sad?” relates to element 5 because it exposes the students to a concerning issue about our society members. It gives great ideas and resources that the students can use if they go through a similar problem. It mentions different activities and exercises that will be beneficial for the entire family. It discusses the mental disorder in a light way so that the child is reassured that this will not be a permanent environment that they will be living in. The students will be educated on the topic and therefore will feel open and driven to share this factual information with the people they care for! This book is raising awareness because we are being educated and being shared the tools needed to take action on this problem. However, element 5 is not social action so therefore it does not have students take effort in objectifying change. Children will finish this book with an understanding of the psychological disorder and raising awareness to others about what they have just heard and seen!   
Activity: A good activity to go with the story “Why Are You So Sad” would be to have each child draw a picture about a moment in their lives that was very sad and distressing. Let them be creative and colorful to express the emotions that they went through. Then, the students can share with the class their experience but only if they want to. Afterwards, we will discuss as a group how this activity relates to the story we just read about the family. We will point out the similarities and differences to show a different perspective to emotions and how broad they can be.  

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