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, April 15, 2015

Element 6: Taking Social Action

Title: Take Action! A Guide to Active Citizenship 
Authors: Marc Kielburger and Craig Kielburger
Grade Level: 5
Element 6: Taking Social Action 

Take Action! A Guide to Active Citizenship is a how-to guide to taking social action. It is jammed packed with tips and strategies to help children make changes in their community, state, and around the world! Take Action! was written by Marc Kielburger and Craig Kielburger, who are founder of Leaders Today, an organization that is dedicated to helping young people become socially involved. The guide is broken down into five parts to provide students with a clear set of tools and strategies to address social issues. Part 1 displays the seven steps to social involvement. It discusses topics such as choosing an issue, doing research, building a team, and making a plan of action. Part 2 is the how-to guide for taking social action. Topics in the guide include: how-to set up a group, hold a meeting, write various forms of letters, give a speech, carry out a survey, write a petition, raise public awareness and support, and how to raise funds. Part 3 discusses places that children can get involved, which is of course, everywhere! Part 4 goes over a number of social issues such as human rights, children's rights, environment, hunger, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and peace. The final part of the guide shares resources for researching social issues. The book concludes by providing students with examples of leaders today. The end of the book also references Kids Can Free the Children, a group that C. Kielburger started when he was 12 years old. The group has grown dramatically over the years. They have built and opened 300 schools, shipped over 100,000 school and health kits, and continue to pressure government to enact laws to protect children.

Element 6: Taking Social Action
This book is absolutely representative of Element 6: Taking Social Action. The book provides countless opportunities to take action on social issues. The book provides students with a number of issues that they may feel passionate about and gives them the tools to take action against them. The guide supports students every step of the way in their fight against social injustice. Take Action! provides students with the skills they need to create change. It provides them with outlines for letter writing, public speaking, proposal writing, conducting surveys, raising funds and so much more. This book is a necessary tool in a social justice curriculum.

Classroom Activities:
This book can be used in so many different ways in the classroom. It is an excellent resource for both teachers and students. There are numerous outlines for letters, speeches, petitions, and proposals that teachers can turn into worksheets to scaffold student's writing process. This book is one that can continue to be pulled out throughout the entire year. I would use this book to guide my students as they take social action. For example, if we decided we were going to take action against unjust Child Labor Laws by writing letters to state representatives I would focus attention to the letter writing section of this book. We would discuss which type of letter would be most appropriate when writing to state representatives. The class could follow the guidelines in provided in the book in order to develop effective and appropriate letters. If I wanted to inspire my students to create change I would share with them the stories of others who have taken action against injustice. We could discuss the author of the book, Craig Kielburger, and how he began his own organization when he was just 12 years old! These are just a few of the many activities and uses for Take Action! in the classroom. 
Click here to read more about Craig Kielburger's organization, Kids Can Free the Children!

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