Author: Paul Fleischman
Summary: This story is about a vacant lot that is turned into a garden. In this neighborhood there is a vacant lot that is rat infested and filled with garbage, but one day a young Vietnamese girl named Kim decides to plant lima beans in the vacant lot. As the neighbors watch her as she plants her lima beans they become curious about what she is doing and decide to make use of the garden as well. The story is not told from the perspective of a single character, but in a series of vignettes written from a first-person perspective of a very diverse group of characters. Some of the characters are young, some are old; some are new to
Reflections: I really enjoyed this book because it truly takes on multi-perspectives of how different people perceive and make use of the same shared space. I would definitely use it in my classroom because there is so much you can do with it. It can also be easily integrated into the various subjects. I love how the story is told from so many different peoples perspective, instead of just one character’s perspective. I think telling the story from different perspectives sends a much more powerful message about how although people are different we all innately share a common thing which is are humanity. The story authentically gives multi perspectives by telling the story in vignettes of thirteen different characters. I love how each of the characters are very different and represent people all over the spectrum.
I would be very careful about the age group I would use this with. It does touch on some heavy topics like, teen pregnancy and marijuana, but this shouldn’t be a reason to not use it, just be prepared and think about how you are going to talk about such topics in your classroom.
How would I use the book/ curriculum units: This book is great because you can easily integrate it into so many subjects. I would probably use in many ways one way would be a character study because the story is broken up into different characters. The character study then leads it self to a social studies lesson/unit. I would then probably have the student’s research each characters cultural back round and teach the class about each as a social studies unit. You could also have them really develop their characters by doing art projects like the ones we have been doing in class. I would probably also incorporate drama by having students become the characters in the story and acting it out. I would then incorporate Science by having the students learn about the different seeds and plants. I would have the students create our own classroom garden based on our own Seedfolk story. Therefore I would have the kids write their own vignette and what seeds they would bring to our garden and why. I would then have them physical plant a class garden. I would also encourage them to think about a place that like a park that isn’t so pretty and to think about how we can do something about it.
Domains of Social Justice: 1) Domains of self-love and acceptance: Students learn to love themselves for who they are. In this story many different cultures are embraced and talked about. While some characters in the story have a lot more pride about who they are and their cultural back round. You can have your students identify with their culture and discuss one thing they are proud of that belongs to their culture and is strongly a apart of who they are. They learn that their culture is one of the many seeds and foundations for who they are today.
2) Respect for Others: Students will understand that just because people share the same space doesn’t mean they see it the same and even though people don’t see it exactly the same it doesn’t make their perspective less valuable or less important. As we see in the story each character initially uses the garden for their own purposes they soon find that the garden is much more than just their own and they respect the others in the community for being part of the garden. They are able to understand that despite our differences it is still a space we must share therefore we should learn to respect one another so our space can be a garden not a vacant lot.
3.) Exploring Issues of Social Justice: This story allows students to explore many topics such as racism, classism, and sexism because the characters in the story hold stereotypes and prejudices towards the other characters. These stereotypes and prejudices toward one another are expressed by many of the characters in the story. For example the character Anna, whom is an older white women, believes that Gonzalo who is Guatemala is using the garden to plant marijuana so he can sell drugs because according to Anna that is what those people do.
4.) Social Movements and Social Change: Students learn to appreciate other people and have a better understanding for why people act or see things differently. Students will understand that there are multi perspectives to looking at something.
5) Taking Social Action: Students will take action by thinking about a place in their community that isn’t so pretty or that maybe is vacant and what they can do to change that.