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 28, 2018

Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights

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Author: Rob Sanders
Illustrator: Jared Andrew Schorr
Grade Level: PreK-3 (ages 4-8)

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The simple and powerful message of Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights is clear from the beginning - every voice matters, no matter how small, and every voice sings a unique and purposeful song. Using scarce yet rhythmic clear language coupled with bold imagery, the elementary ELA teacher/author makes clear that there is no one right way to make a difference, but it is necessary to make one now. Written almost as a how-to guide for today's budding activists, Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights is a rallying call-to-action for readers to speak up and speak out, in any way that they can. The book simply lists many types of activism and encourages readers to take action; from protests to strikes, staying quiet or screaming out loud, readers see a multitude of ways that change has and can be affected. What is so powerful about this book is first it's simplicity in imagery and language and also the empowering implication which undergirds it: anyone can help change the world in any way that they can. Readers are reminded that they can only do uniquely what they can do, so they must do it now. The book is strikingly illustrated by Jared Andrew Schorr, who specializes in creating work cut entirely from paper and brings Sanders words to life, adding an organic grass roots feel to the inspiring message that together, we can do anything.

Element #6: Taking Social Action
In element #6 of Social Justice education, teachers provide opportunities for students to take action on issues that affect them and their communities. This kid-friendly text provides examples of the many different forms of activism, organizing, protesting, boycotting, striking and movements that have and can upend inequity and inequality. Readers will feel empowered and positioned as unique activists capable of making a difference in any way that they can by learning about the many faces and avenues of activism and change. The message that activism takes many forms and every form of it can be powerful is sure to energize social action at whatever level readers are comfortable.

Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights opens the door for student conversations about activism possibilities. This book could inform a variety of lessons on social justice in an elementary level class. The structure of the book lends itself to a lesson where students are prompted to discuss the many different forms that activism can take and the powerful role that citizens play in all of those forms of activism. The “Peaceful Protest” and Glossary at the end of the book can be used as part of a vocabulary or history lesson where students read the book, pick a favorite page and then give the historical or contemporary context for its inclusion in the book. In addition, teachers using this as an anchor text in ELA classes can have students choose a form of activism mentioned in the book to research and write about.

1 comment:

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