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 22, 2014

Aani and the Tree Huggers

Author: Jeannine Atkins
Illustrator: Venatius J. Pinto
Grade Level- 2-4

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Summary: Aani and the Tree Huggers by Jeannine Atkins is about a girl named Aani who is part of a village in India. One day when sitting under her favorite tree she hears the unusual sound of trucks in the area. With concern to why she is hearing these sounds, she goes to find the other women in the village to ask them what is going on. She is then told that the trucks are men from the city and they are here to cut down the trees. With not much time to act, her and the other women of the village hurry over to the men cutting down trees. The women first try to talk to the men and tell them that this is their home and all the value that the trees bring them. However, when the men refuse to listen Aani realizes that it is time to act. Without saying a word she runs up to the tree, closes her eyes and hugs the tree. The next thing she knows all the other women from the village are also hugging trees. The men then try to talk to the women but the women refuse to move telling the men that they needs these trees. The men no longer had any other option and they agreed to leave in peace allowing the village to keep their valuable trees.

Element 6:  Social Action: This book relates to social action because not only do the village women raise the awareness of the value of the trees, but they also take action. Element 6 teaches students to identify issues they feel passionate about and learn the skills of creating change. In this story Aani and the village women felt very passionate about their trees and how they help them survive. Aani then took actions and hugged the tree which encouraged the other women to take action to save their village. This book no only address the issue of the trees being cut down, but it also show the action being taken.

Activity: One activity I would do would be to have the students relate this story to their lives currently and what trees give them. I would have the students individually write down all the different things that they can think of that trees give us or reasons they value trees. After I would give each student a part of a tree. The students would then write their list of things that trees give us and then we would put the parts together to make one big class tree showing how a tree has different values to different people. Students will then be able to learn how important trees are to us and why the social action to stop the cutting of trees is important.

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