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, October 5, 2015

Busing Brewster

Title: Busing Brewster
Written by Richard Michelson
Illustrated by R.G. Roth
Element 3: Exploring Issues of Social Injustice
Reading Level: Grades 1-4

            Brewster is excited to start the first grade at Franklin in Miss. Evelyn’s class, but his mother has unexpected news. Brewster and his brother Bryan will be going to Central now, which is the “white school.” As the boys take the bus to Central the following morning, they notice that there are people protesting on both sides of the street and a rock gets thrown through the window, shattering it. While Brewster gets a drink of water later on, a white boy pushes him from behind, saying that he didn't belong at Central. Bryan sticks up for his brother, calling the white boy “Freckle-face”, which lands the three boys in detention in the library all day. During detention, Brewster meets Miss O’Grady, and she shows Brewster the abundant of books at the library and teaches him that he could be anything that he wants to be, even President. Meanwhile, Bryan and Freckle-face are joking and laughing together. As the day comes to an end, Brewster tries to say bye to Freckle-face but with his dad standing right there, the boy wont say bye back when his father says that wishes colored people would only go to school at Franklin. Once Brewster comes home, he doesn't tell Mama what happened, but reassures her that he had a great day.

Element 3: Exploring Issues of Social Injustice
            During the 1970’s, there was an abundant of racism with schools becoming desegregated, allowing whites and blacks to attend the same school. Many African Americans were forced to attend schools that have been previously all white, and whites had to get used to colored students being in their class. Through this text, you can imagine what a common confrontation would be for a white and black student. Element three delves into the issues of racism, classism, etc., which is portrayed in the confrontation between Brewster and Freckle-face. By the end of the day, Freckle-face got along with Brewster and Bryan, but through his father’s negative comment, he felt like he couldn't be friendly with the boys. This is a perfect example of social injustice due to the racism and he hatred white people felt for African Americans going to their schools.

            I would first start by reading this book aloud to the class. While reading the book aloud, I would get my students involved, asking them how they felt at certain parts of the book and asking for predictions. Once I am done reading the book, I would assign a project, in which each student will draw a picture of themselves and then write a few sentences about what they want to be when they grow up. I would encourage my students that they could be anything they want in the world, just like Miss. O’Grady told Brewster. Once all the students complete the activity, I will create a book for our class, give each student a copy, and also have a copy in the classroom library, so all students could read it and learn a little bit more about their classmates.

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