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, March 30, 2015

The Day the Crayons Quit

The Day the Crayons Quit

Title: The Day the Crayons Quit
Author: Drew Daywalt
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Grade: K-5

The Day the Crayons Quit is a story about a box of crayons that write their owner Duncan letters saying that they have all had enough and that they are all quitting. Each crayon writes a letter to Duncan as to why they are quitting being his crayons. Red Crayon is tired of working harder than the others. Purple Crayon does not want to be used outside the lines anymore. Beige Crayon does not want to be called “light brown” or “dark tan” and is annoyed about always being used to color a turkey dinner or wheat. Gray Crayon feels that to color a whale is a lot to do all alone. White Crayon wants more than to just fill in empty space. Black Crayon feels it is unfair to be used only to outline pictures. Green Crayon is extremely satisfied but writes Duncan a letter on behalf of Yellow and Orange Crayon because they are not speaking to one another. Yellow and Orange Crayon both feel they should be used for the color of the sun. Blue Crayon is slowly getting shorter because Duncan overuses Blue since it is his favorite color. Pink Crayon is upset that Duncan thinks Pink is a girl’s color and has only been used once during the year. Finally, Peach Crayon speaks out because Duncan peeled the paper off of Peach and Peach now feels naked and embarrassed when having to come out of the crayon box. Duncan felt bad that his crayons were feeling the way they were and wanted them to be happy. He ends up creating a picture using all the crayons in the way they want to be used and they are all happy again. 

Element 4: Social Movements and Social Change
The Day the Crayons Quit is a great book to use as an example of social movement and social change. Even though this book is about a boy and his crayons, there is a deeper meaning underlying the letters that the crayons write to Duncan. The crayons all recognize something that they do not like. They do not like the way that Duncan is treating them and how they are being used so they decide to do something about it by writing letters to Duncan. In each of the letters, the crayons explain how they are being used and how it is making them feel. Once Duncan reads through all of the letters, he realizes that he needs to make a change. He ends up creating a picture that uses all of the colors the way they asked to be used. This represents social movement and social change because the crayons wanted to make a change and Duncan listens. The crayons essentially make a movement to be used in a better way and Duncan makes the change that the crayons want to see.

One activity that students can do after reading The Day the Crayons Quit is to have a debate. The students can be split into groups and each group can be given a color to defend. The students can reflect on their color’s letter and then debate reasoning as to why their color has the best argument for how they are being used. This activity will get the students to think about the book and how it can be used to understand social movement and social change. Having a debate around the letters that the crayons wrote will put into perspective the message that each crayon was trying to convey and which color had the strongest argument. They may even debate which crayon may have had the most convincing letter that had Duncan make a change to how he used his crayons. 

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