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, November 4, 2014

A Sweet Smell Of Roses

Author: Angela Johnson
Illustrator: Eric Velasquez
Grade Level: Kindergarten-3rd  (5-8 years old)

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The story is about two young girls who sneak out their house to join a Civil Rights march down to Charlotte Street and across town.  There is a "sweet smell of roses" in the air as the girls get to witness clapping, singing, and hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak during this momentous march.  They also get the opportunity to be carried by strangers as they march down the street.  The two girls even witness the negative aspects of the march as words like, "You are not right. Equality can't be yours," is being yelled out by onlookers.  As the march comes to an end, the girls return home singing songs of freedom in the streets.  By the time the girls reach home, they see their worried mother waiting for them at the door.  The family then hugs and goes inside the house still smelling the"sweet smell of roses."  The sweet smell of roses is written throughout the book as a tribute to all the young boys and girls who participated in the Civil Rights Movement.

Element 4:
In element four, students learn that by working together, ordinary people have united to create change.  This book related to element four because during the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans rose together to fight for change, equality, and freedom.  The book A Sweet Smell Of Roses dedicated to the many young children who joined with adults to march for freedom.  Those involved in the peaceful marches, sang, clapped, chanted, "Freedom! Freedom! We are right. We march for equality and freedom," and stood up for what they believe in.  This book is a great tool for early childhood elementary educators due to the fact that it is a prime example in our history that when people work together, ordinary people can create change.  It encourages students to stand up for what they believe in and work together for change.

I would first begin my lesson with students thinking about what it means to stand up for what you believe in.  Then I would read the this book A Sweet Smell Of Roses aloud to the class.  Following the read aloud, I would show my students short clips of marches during the Civil Rights Movement as well as a snippet of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Then I would have the students journal why it is important to stand up for what you believe in as well as the importance of working with each other to fight for change.  After that, the students will turn and share with each other.

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