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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Show Way

Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrator: Hudson Talbott
Grade Level: K- 5

Soonie's Great-Grandma was sold at the age of seven into slavery.  She only had with her muslin and needles when she was sold.  She learned how to sew by Big Mama while being a slave.  Soonie's Great-Grandma sewed beautiful quilts with roads and star that slaves followed in the dark of the night, hoping to find their freedom.  As each generation of Soonie's family was sold at the age of seven into slavery, the tradition of sewing and creating Show Way quilts was carried on with each child.  In 1863, Soonie's mama was born free and continued creating these quilts of the past.  These quilts were called Trail to the North and Show Ways which Soonie's family still created to hold onto the past and hope for the future.  Soonie's family held onto their past and taught their family of their struggles for freedom through the hope and creations of their quilts that continued through generations.  The powerful quotes from well-known historians and images from history through slavery, and segregation are an exciting educational addition to this book.  In the end, Soonie's family's stories and traditions continue through generations, with no end.

Element # 1- Self-Love and Knowledge:

Show Way Provides students with the opportunity to see how traditions are passed from generation to generation, appreciating the struggles that occurred in the past to create the future.  It shows students where they came from with a sense of dignity and pride from their past ancestors.  The illustrations do a wonderful job in providing visuals that incorporate historical moments throughout the book.  It provides images of the quilts with maps leading to routes to find the North Star and freedom.  The book also incorporates traditions such as "jumping over the broom".  Jumping over the broom was related to a wedding ceremony.  Show Way is a timeline of events in one's family that provides students with pride from the past, and how generations keep alive traditions and history through the sharing and creation of quilts that portray many stories.  

Follow-Up Activity:

Teachers can create their own classroom quilts that will then lead into Element # 2- Respect for others. Teachers can have students interview their own families and ancestors to see what traditions and customs have been passed on through generations.  This activity will allow for students to appreciate their own customs and traditions that have been passed onto them.  It will provide a sense of self-love to understand where they have come from and how their customs and traditions have originated.  This will help all students be able to learn about their own history and identity.  After they interview their family, teachers would have each student construct their own image to display a tradition or custom from their family that has been passed down to them.  These images will then be sewed, pasted, etc. to form a quilt of the entire class's history.  Once the quilt is constructed, Element #-2 can then begin to unfold as we learn about others in our class.  

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