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.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Yes, We Can! Janitor Strikes in LA By Diana Cohn (Element 6)

By Jessica Minsky

Summary of book: Carlitos lives in LA with her mother and his abuelita. His mother works the overnight shift as a janitor in an office building in downtown LA. His mom gets home as Carlitos is on his way to school. The mom became tired of constantly working and not being able to provide for her family. The mother and her co-workers decide that they are going to go on strike for better wages. Carlitos wants to help in some way,he talks to his teacher and finds out that there are more students parents who are also involved in the strike. Carlito and his class make signs and join the strike. The class and Carlitos learn that even at a young age you can still make a difference.

Connection to Element 6: Yes, We Can! connects to element 6 because it is about taking a stand on what you believe in.They join the LA Janitor’s Strike. Carlitos, his teacher and his classmates wants better for his mom and their families. He feels the need to help his mom in the cause of getting better wages. He enacts his classes participation, and gets everyone involved in a cause they have a connection to.

How would I use this in the classroom:  I would use this book in multiple ways in a 4th grade classroom. It is culturally unique because it is a bilingual book. I would use it to teach as lesson on making a difference. How if they have strong belief in a cause they rally together and make change. I would show them something like what we watched in class on the protest in Arizona school system and how they shut down the culturally diverse classes. I would ask students to draw connections between the two protests. I challenge them to find a cause that they would stand up and fight for like Carlitos and the students in Arizona. Creating a project that would allow them to stand up and allow the students show their own voice and where their personal concern lies. 

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