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.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Giving Book: Element 6 Taking Social Action

“The Giving Book”                
Written by Ellen Sabin and ________________

Reading level: Ages K-2
Publisher: Watering Can Press


As you can see by the “fill-in-your-name-here” design on the cover, this book offers the recipient an opportunity to take ownership for defining the world they live in. Beginning with the line for “co-authorship”, this book is designed to engage children in introspective thought about values and virtues and help them see that you can make a difference by caring and giving of oneself. Children can take an active role by including their photo, contributing illustrations, and completing their journal with personal accounts about caring and making a difference, forming intimate connections to philanthropy in action.  Responses include naming those persons who have shown them benevolence, instances in which they have been giving to others, listing what they appreciate in their lives and what they wish for others. Children are also asked about what their own special gifts and talents may be, and how they can use those talents to make the world better or help another person in some way, providing them with a sense of self-worth and empowerment. The format is colorful,  “user-friendly,” and inviting for a child to complete. The book also offers suggestions and resources for the adults that are significant in the life of the child to whom this book is given so that they can guide them and seek ways to help the child take action in the cause of their choice.

Because this book opens the door to identifying the issues that are meaningful to an individual child, follow-up activities should be based on the specific interests that are shared in the journal entries. A child and caregiver might work together to implement a plan of action that they take to the broader community of neighborhood, school or community.
While the design and approach of this book is centered on a more individual journey into a life of altruism, it could be adapted for use with a classroom of students.  Students can recall and list specific people in their lives that have shown them the meaning of caring and they can also share their wishes for the world in a classroom setting.  Should this be how the book is used, a teacher can work with the class to choose a particular social injustice that is meaningful to the group. Teacher and students can then develop a “take-action” plan focused on the chosen topic of interest.

Elements of Social Injustice

Element 6: Taking Social Action
“The Giving Book” is a great method for children, particularly young elementary school-aged children, to develop an understanding of what social action is all about, to acknowledge empathy in oneself and others, and to think critically about injustices at a rudimentary and age-appropriate level. By introducing young children to the concept that what you do and how you act effects the world around you, the perspectives of the next generation are being shaped in a positive way and the seeds of social activism are being sown. “The Giving Book” is intended to inspire moral thinking and motivate social action in children, and, hopefully, impart the enduring understanding that you can make a difference, be it big or small.

Buy It
• Barnes and Noble - Print
• Scholastic – Print
• Amazon Books – Print

Additional Information
Also worth noting is that this book is one in a series by this author intended to grow children with character. Other topics addressed are special needs, autism, money matters, environmental awareness, and maintenance of a healthy body.
If ordering in larger quantities, (10 or more), Watering Can Press offers a minimum of a 20% discount that increases with the size of the order.

Their website also provides more information about:
• Engaging Activities
• Parties with a Purpose
• Free downloadable guides to implementing social action in youth
• All books in the series available for purchase

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