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 8, 2015

Wangari's Trees of Peace

Author: Jeanette Winter
Grade Level: 2
Resource: Information about Wangari's life
Wangari’s Trees of Peace is a story about a woman who returns back to her home in Kenya to find that deforestation has devastated the land. She plants some trees herself, and then tells the other women in the village to start to do the same. She asks them to spread the word to other women to start planting trees. She starts providing women with money and information about planting trees. When the women in other villages see that Wangari’s village is growing trees successfully, they begin to plant trees too. Wangari stands up to the men cutting down the trees and is put in jail. She briefly worries that her work will stop, but she is not alone because there are so many women planting trees.
 Element 5: Raising Awareness
This book jumped out at me while I was reflecting on element 5: raising awareness because of the way that Wangari empowers the women around her to do something about their situation. The women had to collect firewood from miles away and their land was barren. Wangari’s idea was simple and the women embraced it. The way that word spread teaches children that an idea can motivate change. This book teaches students that a lot of little things can result in big change.
I would incorporate this book into my lessons about earth day and reflect on the ways that we can make changes to improve our world. I could also use it to facilitate an activity in which we grow seeds and then plant them in the ground.

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