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.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Butterfly

Title: The Butterfly
Author: Patricia Polacco
Illustrator: Patricia Polacco
Grade Level: 3rd-5th Grade

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A little girl named Monique lives in a small French village that has been invaded by Nazis.  Although Monique is terrified of the Nazi's, she continues about her daily routines and tries to continue living life normally.  Everything is going well until she witnesses Monsieur Mark get taken away by the Nazis all because he is Jewish.  Monique tries to live life normally until she is awoken abruptly throughout the night by a "ghost" named Sevrine.  Monique soon learns that her mother has a huge secret that she can no longer hide.  Sevrine turns out to be a little Jewish girl that is taking refuge in Monique's basement with her family.  Sevrine and Monique begin to secretly meet until a neighbor spots the two of them in the middle of the night.  In order to protect both of the families, Monique's mother makes the decision to leave in the middle of the night to help Sevrine's family make it into another country for refuge. Monique is very worried for her new friend but determines that she has arrived safely to her destination by a visit from hundreds of butterflies.  This books takes readers through a heart-wrenching, adventure filled journey that teaches readers the heroic characteristics of those that stand up for the rights of others.

Element 4: Social Movements and Social Change: 

The Butterfly is an amazing resource that can be used to teach students about the important of Social Movements and Social Change.  The Butterfly describes the risks that one family took in order to hide a Jewish family from Nazis.  This book accounts the risks that people took by standing together and addressing the injustice that occurred during WWII and the Holocaust.  Through reading and studying The Butterfly, students will learn the importance of standing together against acts of social injustice.

Follow-up Activity:

 After completing a read-aloud of The Butterfly, students will begin a writing unit that allows for students to create a new ending of the book The Butterfly.  Students will be asked to write the ending of The Butterfly from Sevrine's perspective and to describe the events that happened after Sevrine left Monique.  Students will be able to learn more about the Holocaust through using other books, websites, and resources in order to help create an ending to Sevrine's story.

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