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 18, 2014

A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water across the World

A Thirst for Home 
A Story of Water across the World

Author: Christine Leronimo

Illustrator: Eric Velasquez

Age Ranges: 5 to 8 

In Ethiopia water is very hard to find. There is rarely running water in homes and women and girls have to walk miles and miles to find a river, brook, or watering hole. Many times these water sources are dirty and contaminated. Alemitu and her emaye (mother) must walk many miles to reach any water in order to survive. Emaye knows this is not the life she wants for her daughter and makes the sacrifice to put Alemitu up for adoption. When Alemitu is adopted she moves to America where she lives with a very nice new family. In America she begins to go by the name of Eva. She is amazed at how easy it is to find running water whenever she wants and never has to worry about going hungry or thirsty. Although Eva has made a huge move and lives with a new family, she still remembers her beautiful home country of Ethiopia and Alemitu. She embraces this and says that she is Eva Alemitu! Whenever she sees water, a puddle, or rain, she will always remember how water connects her to her mother and her home country. 

Element 5 - Raising Awareness:
This book definitely raises awareness of issues around the world. I think it would be great to use in the classroom because it can help students in the US understand that not everyone is as fortunate as us to have access to water and have running water all around us. There are a lot of movements and acts trying to better the water situations in African countries. This book is a great way to make this issue relatable and understandable to young students. A Thirst for Home raises awareness about the lack of water supply some people experience in other countries, but it also raises awareness about other issues. For example, we learn that some mothers feel that their situation is so bad that they decide to put their child up for adoption. This cannot be an easy decision at all and it shows those who read what these families really go through. I think it would be beneficial for students to understand that people around them may be adopted and/or from another county. This helps to broaden their awareness and relate to others.

When using this book in the classroom I would want to teach students what it means to relate to others and how to look at something in another perspective. Alemitu's story is probably very unique to many American students. After doing a read aloud of A Thirst for Home, I would ask the students to reflect on the story and compare how Alemitu's life is different or similar to their own. As a class, we would make a T-Chart of similarities and differences. I would ask students to think about how their life would be different if they lived in Ethiopia. Students would brainstorm by doing a quick think-pair-share in which students would talk to the person next to them about what life would be like. Then in a whole-group discussion, students would share and make comments. Lastly, I would have students answer a short writing prompt. The prompt would ask, "How would your life be different if you didn't have running water?" Students would answer this in their journal. Students will be in small groups that act as their own book clubs and they will each get to read their writing from their journal. The other students will each make one comment about their classmate's writing. Continuing in small groups, I will then ask groups to think of things that they now appreciate more. I hope that by doing this students will realize that it's not always important to appreciate material things we have or special things we get to do, but even things we consider everyday necessities. From reading Alemitu's story it just goes to show that not everyone even has access to water; something we definitely take for granted. Hopefully each student will take a second to appreciate the things we have and try to understand what others who don't might go through. This lesson speaks to the quote, "Don't judge anyone, until you've walked a day in their shoes." It's important for students to understand that every individual comes from a different background and lifestyle and that no background or lifestyle is better than another. 

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