Summary: A homeless boy who lives in an airport with his father, moving from terminal to terminal trying not to be noticed, is given hope when a trapped bird finally finds its freedom.
This book tackles the issue of homelessness and brings the reader to feel emotionally attached when the little boy asks why other people get to live in homes? What makes them so special?
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What drew me to this book was the idea of the lack of justice that a young boy realizes at such a young age. So many children may not be confronted by the issue of homelessness, or it may remain an issue to which they are unattached. The reality is that there are many children who live with homelessness everyday and as teachers we must be sensitive and aware of this. This book enlightens children's minds by introducing a basic idea of one issue of social justice.
1) Rereading the book to examine what the people in this book value and how their values compare with those of the children in your class is a worthwhile activity. These people may be homeless but they are not valueless. Help the children see how they are coping with this difficult situation without hurting anybody. They have not turned to crime in order to get a place to live. The father goes off to a part time job. They are constantly looking for a way out: an apartment they can afford, better paying work. They are staying clean, washing up with full flights of people in the washrooms. The boy's father is insisting that, when it comes time, the boy will go to school even though he's not sure how he will manage it. There is compassion toward others in the book and real friendships between some of the homeless.
2) With older grades, kids can conduct research about ways that the homeless family living in the airport isn't getting help. What about welfare, etc... the students can find out what is available in their community to help with this issue and possibly write letters for change if they feel a need.
3) Organize some kind of event to act on this issue. Encourage the students to create a project, either to be ongoing throughout the year, or on a regular basis, like a food drive, food drop offs, clothing drives, mid runs, etc...
Stages of Social Justice Education
Self love and acceptance: The book introduces a child who lives a different type of life than your students might.
Respect for others: Having a discussion with students about being sensitive to many different life styles, with regard to class, race, sex, etc...
Exploring isssues of social justice: Introducing homelessness as a social issue that needs to be addressed.
Social movements and social change: Students doing research about the services available for the homeless in their city or neighborhood.
Taking social action: Students organizing drives and other iniatives for their community to help with the issue of homelessness in their communities.