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.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Title: Go Easy On Energy
                                                                            Author: Lisa Bullard
                                                                           Illustrated by: Wes Thomas
                                                                           Buy here
                                                                           Ages:  8-11(grades 2-4)
                                                                            Element 5 and 6

This book is about a boy named Tyler, who saves energy by going to school on the bus instead of riding in his mother's car. He explains that his mother's car runs on energy that comes from oil. He talks about the different types of energies and how he takes action to save energy. He turns off lights and the T.V when he is not using it. He thinks about how he can save energy all the time even during recess. He is so concerned about conserving energy that he even dreams about it and wakes up to start the day off by seeing how he can save energy.                                
 This book fits element 6 because It shows how Tyler takes action to save energy. He saves energy by taking the bus to school, instead of his mother driving him, turning off lights and things he is not using. This is a great book to show awareness of saving energy which supports element 5. The social action is when he actually show how he saves energy. This book is demonstrating how to save energy and students can help save energy by take action to save energy. The steps that Tyler takes to save energy can motivate students to start or continue saving energy.

After reading Go Easy On Energy out loud to the class. I will have a class discussion on how we can save energy daily just like Tyler. The Students will voice the ways they will save energy. I will first model how I will save energy and write it on the anchor chart as well as the students responses to how they will save energy. Then independently students will be given a sign that says I love Earth and the student will color it and be given three regular pieces of paper where they have to write three ways on how they can save energy. They will write one way they can save energy in each box with at least one sentence. They will also draw a picture that relates to their writing. They then will assemble all pieces with three black strip of papers to create an energy mobile. The mobiles will be hung in the classroom.

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It’s Your World; If You Don’t Like It, Change It

Element 6: Taking Social Action- students explore their own context and develop tools to work for change

Author: Mikki Halpin

Grade: 6th   

Summary: Mikki Halpin’s, “It’s Your World; If You Don’t Like It, Change It”, is geared toward the teenage population in hopes of promoting activism.  Within the book, a reader will find information in relation to the following topics: Rights for animals, fighting against racism, the environment, freedom of speech, ending war, fighting the HIV/AIDS Spread, stopping bullying, defending women's rights, protecting civil rights, and promoting tolerance for LGBTQ. Throughout the book, Halpin offers a variety of suggestions in order to support the world and community.

Element 6: This powerful book would be used to apply Element 6 especially in a 6th grade classroom because it allows young students to realize the significance of their “voice”. Students will learn ways to make positive actions and the importance of getting involved in their community. These particular skills will be helpful for their future as well as currently as they are able to promote these new ideas with those around them. The challenge of this book is to get students to brainstorm various ways to “get involved” and “create change”, which directly correlates with Element 6. 

Activity: A follow-up activity to do with a classroom after reading this book would be to assign each student with a classmate to choose a particular area of focus within the community that they can get involved with. For example, students may want to get involved with would be to clean local parks. Students will be responsible for creating a list of objectives there would be when cleaning up their local parks. What “difference” would they like to make and how would it impact their community around them? Students would be asked how exactly would they get others involved and what would be some of their advertising strategies? The motivation that students will get will promote them to gather others to join in on this exciting, impactful activity. Students could plan one day to actually try their activity and clean a local park in their home area. As a closing, students would be asked to take pictures and show them to their class as well as write a short synopsis of what they got out of doing this activity.

Vanessa Campo

Title: Recycling is Fun

Author: Charles Ghigna

Illustrator: Ag Jatkowska

Grade Level: Kindergarten


In Ghigna's story, he shows how recycling is an enjoyable task that everyone can do.  This book demonstrates the different types of items people can recycle such as paper, plastic, glass, and clothes. With colorful pictures of excited children, this book entices students to feel motivated to take part in bettering their world and can look forward to having a good time doing it!  By showing fun ways to recycle and even use old items to make new toys, Ghigna shows that taking care of your planet is not only the right thing to do, but the fun thing to do.  

Element 6: Taking Social Action:

In Element 6, teachers give their students the opportunity to address an issue they see in their world. After students share a topic they feel passionate about, they then have the chance to give back to their world/community by participating in an action to improve the problem.  In this book, it establishes that recycling is important to help better our world.  Students can see how other children find enjoyment from helping their world and in turn, desire to also recycle as much as they can to make a positive impact on the environment they live in.  

How I Would Use This Book:

I believe that this book is appropriate for a kindergarten classroom.  As the teacher, I would first introduce the topic of recycling by asking my students what recycling is and also ask if they have recycled before.  This allows me to have a base line understanding of what my students do or don't already know.  Then I would read this book aloud to my students.  After reading, I would have an open discussion by first asking the students how they can recycle at home and at school.  Then I will tell the students we are going to collect plastic bottles for an entire month (and students are encouraged to bring empty plastic bottles from home).  We will set a class goal and at the end of the month, we will take a scheduled field trip to our local recycling facility where students can learn and see how bottles are recycled and also discover how they are helping save their planet by recycling these bottles.  


I enjoyed how this book showed that taking part in recycling is in fact fun.  It also engages students as it explains how you can take old items and make them into new things, such as toys.  This book encourages positive social action even at a young age!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Juice Box Bully

Authors: Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy
Illustrator: Kim Shaw
Grade Level: Second Grade

The Juice Box Bully is a great powerful book written by Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy, for children to become motivated and encouraged to make a difference. It shows readers’ that standing up for others is very empowering and by working together they can make a difference. This book is about a young boy named Pete who is new to a school. Pete had a bad attitude and did not want to interact with his peers. Instead Pete called them names and acted very unpleasant towards them. Despite his actions a young girl named Ruby approached Pete and explained how their class made a promise. The promise was to take care of themselves, each other, and their classroom, and to solve problems peacefully. They promised that in their class no one would stand by and accept bad behavior, instead they would speak up when someone acts hurtfully. Unfortunately Pete did not like the promise and continued acting very mean. The next day Pete complimented Ruby on her shirt, which was followed with a squirt from his juice box.  Ruby was upset and demanded everyone to break the promise but Ralph put a stop and said he would not let her do that. Pete was surprised with his reaction, and learned that Ralph was once a bully but was not a bystander and did not agree with Pete ruining Ruby’s shirt. Pete finally opens up and explains the reason why he started teasing others. Pete assumed that everyone would hate him for what he did, but shortly after, Ruby apologized and no one really hated him. Pete decided to make the promise as well and eventually apologized to Ruby.

Element 6: Taking Social Action
This book fits into Element 6 because it delivers a powerful message to readers, which is, empowering kids to stand up for others. This book is great for teachers to use within their classrooms because it provides them with an opportunity on how to handle a difficult challenging issue going on in most schools today, bullying. This book will help readers gain skills on how to create change first hand, which is primarily Element 6.

Integrating The Juice Box Bully into a classroom is a must. Not only will I encourage my students to make the same promise as the children in The Juice Box Bully did but I would also have the class complete an activity to help them as readers retain the valuable message from this book. This activity would be to have the class create a box, imitating a juice box, and allow students to anonymously leave anything they would like to address that they felt was not right that another student did or said. As a class we can go through the box once a week and discuss these messages and come together to create a solution. This will help all students gain those skills needed to create a change and help comfort those that felt afraid to perhaps approach their peers.