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, October 7, 2014

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters

Author: Barack Obama

Illustrator: Loren Long

Grade Level: 1 - 2
More Information on Of Thee I Sing


Of Thee I Sing is about a father writing a beautiful letter to his two daughters.  The author of the book, President Obama, uses beautiful poetic language to highlight thirteen influential people who have had a powerful impact on American society.  The author uses reflective questions such as “Have I told you that …” to capture a wonderful characteristic within his daughters and the historical figure that embodies that trait. For example,  President Obama links courage to his daughters and the courageous baseball Jackie Robinson.  Jackie Robinson was the first African American baseball player to play in Major League Baseball.  The book focuses on the different characteristics that unite us as Americans and how all Americans comes from different backgrounds.  It is about creating the connection between past historical events that have molded and shaped who we are as Americans now and in the future.  

Social Justice Element #3: Issues of Social Injustice

Of Thee I Sing can be used as a book that exemplifies the social justice element three, issues of social injustice, for the younger students.  The book can be used to set a platform for multiple social justice issues that can be address by the characters within the story.  Each character is influential and triumphant because of the unjust and oppressive circumstances he or she was able to surpass.   For example, one of the characters in the story is Sitting Bull.  This could be the first time a student has ever heard of him and with further information can lead to why Sitting Bull is still revered as an important figure in Native American and American social issues.  Another important character that President Obama speaks about in the book is Martin Luther King Jr.  Students would be in a situation where they can link a social injustice to an important activist figure in United States civil rights history.  It also provides a great segway from Elements 1 and 2 because it builds upon the idea that we are all different but are still part of the fabric that makes the United States what it is.


I would incorporate the book by reading it in a read aloud style. As a class, we would read it multiple times. I would begin by dissecting the character traits and defining what they mean. Some examples of this would be to define what it means to be brave, to be a healer, to be strong,  and to be kind. Afterwards, we would delve into specific characters and what problems he or she were facing at that time. Then, we would zero in on an issue such as racism and explore it with the idea that there are people who are trying to fight against this. It helps the students understand that there are certain social justice issues but with from a perspective that people can come together to stand up against those injustices and have been agents of change

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