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.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Berenstain Bears Go Green

The Berenstain Bears Go Green
Author & Illustrator:  Jan & Mike Berenstain
Grade level:  K-4

The Berenstain Bears reside in beautiful Bear Country where there are rolling hills, wide rivers, bright sunny fields and rushing waterfalls.  One day the Berenstain family decides to go fishing down the creek in Grizzly Gramps boat.  While fishing and having lunch they smell something awful and come upon the town’s local dumping area.  They saw that the dump’s waste was beginning to overflow with junk and trash; they also noticed barrels of oil leaking into the creek!  Since Mama Bear was the former Mayor of Bear County she knew to immediately go to the next town meeting to complain about this.  The whole Berenstain family attended the next meeting and the Mayor asked for volunteers to help clean the dump.  Everyone immediately raised their hands to help and in no time the Bear Country Dump was all cleaned up! 

Element 6:  Taking Social Action
This is a great book to demonstrated element 6.  The authors of this book emphasize the roles individuals and communities can take to change their environment.  In this story, students will see the actions that were taken to address the environmental issues by going to town meetings but then also by the discussions the Bear family has about things to do to help save energy and go green!  This story will help raise children’s awareness to going green and gives them ideas on how to make that change happen.  

I would first conduct a read aloud of this story, stopping at certain parts to ask students questions in order to allow them to make comments and connections.  Afterwards, we could create a chart on all of their ideas to help “Go Green” and then choose an activity to perform together in an effort to help the environment.  I would send a letter home to parents asking them to send in any recyclables they can such as: plastic water bottles, aluminum cans, and paper products.  In class, the students will help separate these recyclables into appropriate piles and then we would put them out on recycle day!  Giving them an language and art project to follow up, we would create signs to express the importance of recycling and hang them in the hallway for all to see!

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