Monday, March 31, 2008

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt

Link to where you can buy this book:
Summary: This is a story about an African American girl's escape from slavery on a Southern plantation. When the rigors of cotton-field labor overwhelm Clara, a kindly woman she calls Aunt Rachel trains the girl to be a seamstress in the main house. Like most slaves, Clara longs for freedom and yearns to be reunited with her mother. Becoming proficient in her sewing, she begins in her off hours to put together a map-quilt, stitching in any information she can get from overheard conversations about an escape route to Canada. 

Reflection: I think that this book is very sweet, with well developed characters and a victorious story-line but I don't think that it correctly portrays the life of a slave. All of the pictures are painted with very bright colors and it makes it seem like it was easy for slaves to escape from the south. I think that this is an appropriate book for younger students learning about slavery because it doesn't include many gruesome details and it allows you to sympathize with the characters a lot.

Book Use/Activities/Curricular Units: To help your students sympathize with the characters, you could present a concept/imagine lesson.. Each concept is paired with an imagination activity for students so the teacher reads the concept aloud to students and then offers a brief period for questions. Next, read the imagining exercise and last, allow students to share imaginings and realizations with the class.
For example:
Concept: Clara is separated from her mother before her twelfth birthday. During the times of slavery, it was quite common for the children of slaves to be taken away from their parents. Many slave children were taken away while still an infant. (This practice of separation was used to alienate slaves, deprive them of an emotional support system, and make them feel less human.)
Imagine: that when you get home from school one day, someone takes you away to a place far away from your family and tells you that you must stay at the faraway place forever. Imagine what it might feel like thinking that you will never see your family again. [Pause while students imagine. The thoughts you have may be very similar to the thoughts of Clara and many slave children of the past.]

Domains of Social Justice: This book offers a perfect opportunity for teachers to discuss AAVE (African American Vernacular English) with their older students. AAVE is also popularly known as Ebonics. AAVE is a distinct language variety with specific rules regarding grammar and word pronunciation. Because all of your students are either speakers of AAVE or come in contact with speakers of AAVE, it is important to affirm the idea that AAVE is not a sub-standard variation of English. Rather, AAVE is a linguistic variation that developed in specific socio-cultural conditions and is not related to one’s academic abilities. Many children that learn AAVE in their home learn Standard English as a second language once they begin school. For further reading before lecturing on this concept, you may wish to read the following web page that includes a description of the opposing opinions regarding AAVE:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Great Kapok Tree

Title and Author: The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry

Link to where you can buy this book:

The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry is a story about a man who falls asleep in the Amazon Rain Forest after trying in vain to chop down a great big Kapok tree before succumbing to fatigue and the rain forest's hot climate. While asleep, the man is visited by many of the different animals in the rain forest that rely on the tree for either food or shelter. The animals implore the man not to cut down the tree and inform him of just how important it is to everyone's, including his own, survival.

Reflection: I really liked this book. I thought it was very informative about many issues that people tend to overlook. The impact that humans can have on the rest of the world is a very important concept that children should be taught about early on. This book is a nonthreatening way to introduce the destruction and exploitation of many of the world's natural resources and the sooner children learn about it, the earlier they can start taking measures to stop it. The illustrations are beautiful and do an excellent job of capturing the beauty of the rain forest.

Book Use/Activities/Curricular Units: This book could be used for several different units. It could be used for learning about the various rain forests, habitats, ecosystems, exploitation of natural resources, etc. This book could jumpstart a discussion about what people can do to save the rain forests or other ecosystems that may be in danger of being completely destroyed. It can jumpstart a research project where students research and investigate just how living things in different ecosystems are being affected by forces of consumption and production. Students could then write their own stories or plays about other creatures telling their story and seeking to save their own. They could role play or act out their own stories in front of other classes. Afterwards, they could write letters to the companies that are causing the destruction of these ecosystems telling them of the negative impact they are having and start petitions stating that they will no longer use their products.


Domains of Social Justice:

Respect for Others
& Social Movements and Social Change: This book has underlying themes of respect for all living things, not just people. It highlights just how interconnected we all are and how the actions that we might take for granted, can cause someone or something else to lose everything. It stressed the pitfalls of ignorance and encourages being informed and finding out what you can do to protect the rain forest and by extension, the earth.

El Chino By: Allen Say

Summary: This is a true story of an Arizona-born Billy Wong who was the first-ever Chinese bullfighter. As Billy grows up, his father tells him, over and over again, "In America you can be anything you want to be.'' Billy retains his fathers advice as he visits Spain and faces one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after another on his triumphant way to the bull fighting ring. While striving to become a bull fighter he is held back by his appearance when he is often informed that "Only the Spaniards can become true matadors." So he stayed in Spain and went to bullfighting school, but after two years passed without fighting a single cow, Billy realized that a Chinese matador might stand out in the crowd of aspiring bullfighters--as indeed he did. After his first success as El Chino --The Chinese--in his native costume, Billy received an offer to become a real matador. Say's text renders Billy's complex story with simplicity and grace, and provides inspiration in presenting Billy as an endearing, determined hero.

Reflections: This story was great because it gave perspective into the life experiences of a first generation Chinese immigrant. The idea taught to Billy by his father of having the ability to be anything you want to be in America, is a similar idea that immigrants from many diverse share. The main character, Billy, was at first held back from his goal of becoming a matador because the Spaniards doubted his abilities based upon his appearance. However, this book teaches the reader that by persevering and embracing your true heritage will help you in accomplishing what you want to be.

How this book can be used: The author Allen Say has written several books that all revolve around the same theme of Asian immigration to America. His various books provide multiple perspectives on the process and experience of immigrants. Since there is a similar theme throughout his stories, this book would be good for an author study. This story can also benefit a unit on immigration because it depicts the effects of immigration on people throughout their lives and into adulthood. I would also use this book to focus on the lesson of the story which is to strive for anything you want while still embracing your cultural backgrounds. The main character was only acknowledged after he showed his true identity which made him stand out among the rest of the people. This book can encourage students to take pride and share the traditions of their culture because it is that part of their identity that makes them a unique individual.

Domains of Social Justice: 1) First generation Chinese immigrants may relate to similar struggles that faced the main character. Chinese students may learn about traditional clothing of the Chinese culture. 2) Students learn about one immigrants experience and can relate that to their own immigration experiences or those of their relatives. Students might relate to similar harships that they or their family have experiences when immigrating. 3) Students explore issues of streotyping and prejudices and how these issues held back the main character from achieving his goal. 4) Students learn from the obstacles and struggles this main character faced. Students discover ways to change negative perceptions other people make by maintaining determination and embracing ones own cultural heritage.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hey, Little Ant- Mark Coccarelli

Hey, Little Ant
Hey, Little Ant
By Hannah and Hoose

Link to where you can purchase book:

Summary: PreSchool-Grade 2-Based on a song, this occasionally stilted narrative has a message: respect all creatures and their right to live. A bespectacled ant, loaded down with two shopping bags, is confronted by a human youngster intent on stepping on him. Before the boy can carry out his threat, the ant begs him to reconsider. Each double-page spread is devoted to one character expressing his opinion in the life vs. death debate. The brightly colored, full-page cartoon illustrations, rendered in pen, ink, and watercolor, capably convey the obvious differences and the surprising similarities of the two main characters. The boy is urged to look at things from the ant's point of view before deciding on his course of action. The tale's conclusion is open-ended as readers are asked, "What do you think that kid should do?" The accompanying picture shows a huge sneaker posed above the tiny ant. The music and verses appear on the last page of this tepid tale that could lead to discussions concerning bullies and/or the protection of other species.

Reflection: This is a really good story that shows how to look at things from a different perspective. It shows how a giant person and little ant have more in common then from looks on the outside. The book is also open ended and it allows the children reading the book to take part in the story and decide based off what they have learned in the story weather of not the boy should crush the ant


Domain of Social Justice Education:2.) Respect for Others- Strengthens intercultural competence. The boy looks at life from a different perspective. Sees that the ant’s life is very similar to his own.
3.) Exploring Issues of Social Justice- Racism, Classism, Sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression are confronted. The boy looks at things from a different perspective. He used to make judgments based off appearance. He thought because the ant was tiny and small he wasn’t like the boy at all.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's Okay to Be Different

Summary: It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr is a fun-loving story about the many differences that exist between all people and a unique way in which we can embrace and celebrate those differences. Even though this text may appear to be silly and simple, it’s bright, bold colors and powerful words carry a strong message. The appearance of this text draws students in and the messages of understanding, acceptance, and confidence in oneself keeps them entranced from beginning to end. Combating issues of racism, ableism, perceptions of beauty, immigration, homophobia, adoption, and more this is an important text for all children to be exposed to.

Reflections: It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr is a wonderful story filled with eye-catching illustrations and meaningful narration. I really enjoyed reading this book and each time I read it to children I saw just how much they enjoyed it too! Although this book looks very simple at first glance, it displays issues in today’s world that are relevant to students and need to be discussed. As I read the book for the first time I felt that the way in which Todd Parr discussed heavy issues such as racism, ableism, perceptions of beauty, immigration, homophobia, adoption, etc. was brilliant and appropriate for young readers. Written in a simple and repetitive manner, this book states many ways in which all people are different and repeatedly asserts that these differences are “okay.” Even though there is no mention of the terms racism, ableism, perceptions of beauty, immigration, homophobia, adoption, etc. the issues are there and it is up to the person reading the book how much depth and detail they will discuss based on issues that the book presents. Finally, I think it is great that this book discusses more than one issue because the fact is that there are many issues of social justice and children need to learn about all of them not just racism.

How I would use this book/curricular units: This text would be great to use when introducing students to the terms of racism, ableism, perceptions of beauty, immigration, homophobia, adoption, etc. In addition to introducing these terms, this book could be used to discuss what each terms definition is, what they mean to the students, and how Todd Parr portrays their meaning in his book. In concordance with this, students can discuss whether or not racism, ableism, perceptions of beauty, immigration, homophobia, adoption, etc. exist in their lives and the role that they play in their lives. The teacher can ask students to not only share the factual information regarding their experiences but how those experiences made them feel and what they would have done to change the situation if they could. The teacher can also have the students create a role-play that they will perform in front of the class in which they act out a scenario demonstrating the meaning of one of these terms and the effects that these terms have on others. Then, the students can talk about what should have been done differently and recreate the scene showing how people can combat racism, ableism, perceptions of beauty, immigration, homophobia, adoption, etc. through their words and actions.

Elements of Social Justice Education: 1) Self-love and Acceptance: Students will learn to love themselves for who they are and where they come from. They will see themselves in the text by being able to relate to one of the many descriptions given and recognize that just as Todd Parr writes about these differences he also writes about the fact that it is okay that these differences exist thus fostering a sense of acceptance for others as well as ourselves and where we come from. 2) Respect for Others: Students will learn to investigate other people and cultures and appreciate them for what they are by looking at not hiding from what makes people and cultures different, talking about those differences, and accepting and respecting others for who they are and where they come from. 3) Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students will discuss and learn more about racism, ableism, perceptions of beauty, immigration, homophobia, adoption, etc. and the effects that these issues have on all people. 4) Social Movements and Social Change: Students can explore the issues presented in the text and discuss how people have worked to change society using Todd Parr as an example for writing this book. In addition, they can connect social movements and social change from the outside world to their classroom and discover ways in which they could combat issues similar to those in the text. 5) Taking Social Change: Students will learn how to take action and create social change on their own by looking first at their own classroom and the existence of issues like bullying and its underlying themes to take action against issues such as ableism, racism, classism, perceptions of beauty, etc.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Muhammad Ali Champion of the World

Book Club 2: Muhammad Ali Champion of the World
by Jonah Winter and Francois Roca
Review by Akiko Nagamine

Muhammad Ali Champion of the World is a picture book about Ali’s professional boxing career. It is written with a poetic feel, possibly alluding to Ali’s style of speech. It quotes some of Ali’s famous sayings, and uses a unique font to convey a strong message about determination and believing in yourself. The book highlights moments of Muhammad Ali’s professional career, from when he changes his name to when he refuses to fight in the Vietnam War. The book ends with the infamous “Rumble in the Jungle” where Ali defeats George Foreman in Africa.

I chose this book because I wanted to expose my students to a famous African-American who is overlooked in the social studies curriculum. I thought that my students would be interested in hearing Ali’s story because he is a famous person who is not discussed in schools; he is an icon of determination and strength, and some of my students were familiar with his name.

When reading this book to my students, they were extremely sensitive to the racism that was apparent during Ali’s time. Students exclaimed, “That’s racist!” and it evoked some powerful emotions.

How I used the book / Curriculum Units:
I used this book initially as a read aloud to introduce some new vocabulary words to the students. However, since the book conveys such a powerful message, I also used it for accountable talk asking students to critically discuss the major issues in the book. Students were prompted with different note cards that said things like “Muhammad Ali is (or is not) a leader because…” and “Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali because ______________. I think that…”

This book can be used to introduce a unit on positive role models and what it means to be a role model in a community. In addition, this book may follow a slavery unit where it can be used to talk about the impact of slavery on future generations of the African-American community. Slavery affected Muhammad Ali, and students can refer to his experience to explore how slavery in this country’s past affects us today.

Portions of this text can be used in a poetry unit, especially because Muhammad Ali was famous for quoting poems to predict the outcome of his fights. He coined some famous quotes that are still used to today, such as “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”.

Domains of Social Justice:
1. Self Love and Acceptance
– Students will learn that strong faith in themselves will help them accomplish great things. Muhammad Ali continuously believed in himself through the hardest times and was able to become the champion of the world. Students may discuss what a role model is and what it means to be a role model in today’s society.
Students may also engage in a study of Africa, exploring Ali’s strong sense of African pride and connecting that to a study of students’ ancestors.

3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice – Students will discuss aspects of racism Ali faced during his professional career. It will help put into perspective the effects of slavery on people of more recent generations.

4. Social Movements and Social Change - Students will explore Muhammad Ali not only as a boxer but an international humanitarian. He has been an advocate for the world’s hungry, and helped those in need in his home country as well. Students will continue to explore what it means to be a role model, and how they can be an advocate for change as well.

5. Taking Social Action – Continuing in Ali’s footsteps, students will choose a cause that they strongly believe in, or contribute to an organization that Ali is an advocate for. They can do something simple such as volunteering in a soup-kitchen, or contributing to the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Research Center or the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Mary Braddock

Book Group # 2

Title of the Book: Private and Confidential A Story About Braille

Author: Marion Ripley

Illustrator: Colin Backhouse

Summary: Private and Confidential is a story about a young girl who longs to have a pen pal. When she finally gets one she discovers that her pen pal is visually impaired and that his sister has been reading him all the letters she writes him. The young girl initially becomes very upset about this but she then decides to learn how to write and read Braille so that her and her pen pals can keep their letters private and confidential between the two of them.

Reflections: This is a very simple story, but has an extremely powerful underlying message. The simplicity of the story is engaging though for young students and it’s not just a sappy story about someone who is visually impaired. It can bring up many discussions about a number of different issues, but it especially touches on the topic of how to treat others whom have handicaps or disabilities.

How would I use the book/curriculum units: I recently used this story as a Read Aloud in my student teaching placement in a second grade general education class. I chose it as a read aloud because it was an engaging story and it is a great way to introduce children to the subject if visual impairment. My students loved it. They were extremely attentive and engaged throughout the whole story. Wow! They were also so taken back by the idea of writing and reading in Braille that they asked if I could teach them how to read/write in Braille. Granted this is something I do not know how to do but the back of the book contains some basic to learning how to read Braille so along with my students we learned how to do some reading and writing in Braille. We also then read a book on Louis Braille the inventor of Braille which then led into a geography lesson on France.

After reading the story one of my students mentioned that their grandmother was visually impaired. Another one of my students mentioned that his grandmother was losing her vision and that she often read books on tape so he thought it would be a good idea if some how we could put our published pieces on tape and then send it to her nursing home. I was really impressed with the students’ initiative to think of ways to be more considerate of people having the same opportunities as them. The students discussed how they thought we should do something to ensure that all people are able to read out stories.

Domains of Social Justice: 1) Domains of self-love and acceptance: Students learn to love themselves for who they are. In this case Malcolm who is visually impaired teaches his pen pal that although he has a visually impairment he is still a kid like everyone else and believes he deserve to have the same opportunities to do things like having pen pals like every other kid. He teaches Laura about the cool things he knows like Braille.

2) Respect for Others: In the story the other character Laura learns to appreciate Malcom for Malcom as a person not just by his visual impairment. Students will understand that people are defined by who they are not their disability. Students will learn ways to more considerate of others needs in our everyday world.

3) Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students can think about how they can make small changes in their everyday world to accommodate those with special needs or disabilities. Students can observe how places that should be public are not accommodating to all people

4) Social Movements and Social Change: Students can make changes in places that are not accommodating to all people or even make changes in their own classroom, school, or community.

Summary: Laura Iwasaki and her family are paying what may be their last visit to Laura's grandfather's grave. The grave is at Manzanar, where thousands of Americans of Japanese heritage were interned during World War II. Among those rounded up and taken to the internment camp were Laura's father, then a small boy, and his parents. Now Laura says goodbye to Grandfather in her own special way, with a gesture that crosses generational lines and bears witness to the patriotism that survived a shameful episode in America's history. Eve Bunting's poignant text and Chris K. Soentpiet's detailed, evocative paintings make the story of this family's visit to Manzanar, and of the memories stirred by the experience, one that will linger in readers' minds and hearts.

Reflections: While reading So Far From the Sea, I felt as though I was apart of the Iwasaki family and experiencing the journey of visiting the Manzanar War Relocation Center. I am saddened at the thought that many students go through school without learning that the United States set Japanese internment camps and not knowing the struggles this group faced as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The vivid watercolors and black and white photographs provide the reader to take a closer look at the scenes of the past and recall them with an extraordinary gaze. This is a great book that exposes students to what life was like of those interned, which were also American citizens, and were deprived of their freedom.

How I would use the book/curriculum units: This book can be used to introduce students to Japanese-Americans, the internment camps, World War II, refugees, discrimination, multigenerational families, parents who have jobs and homes that were taken them away from them, parents who serve in the military. This book can be tied with those such as Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuiki, The Bracelet by Yoshiko Uchida, Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say, and I Am An American by Jerry Stanley. In Social Studies, the teacher could locate Japan on the map and have a class discussion about the internment camps and studying Japanese American, Pearl Harbor, and WWII. The teacher can bring in a suitcase for display (the more older it looks the better) and have each student list what he/she would pack if he/she had to leave home suddenly -- remember they will have to carry only one suitcase and post this display on a bulletin board. Students may want to discuss or write about the significance of the Cub Scout neckerchief in the story during writing workshop.

Domains of Social Justice:
1. Self-love and acceptance- The teacher can invite a Japanese-American or a WWII veteran to talk with the class and share his or her story. The teacher can ask students if they know anyone who was interned in the camps and have them write a reflection on how this changed
2. Respect for Others-The book could serve as an introduction to Japanese culture by discovering the cultural importance of the objects left on graves--rice cakes, origami birds, cherry branches and so forth.
3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice- Students can learn about issues of racism, segregation, relocation, and freedom that Japanese were faced with.
4. Social Movements and Social Change-Students can use the web sites below to research historical background and pictures of the Japanese relocation camps. Students can build a memorial in their community for all the minority groups who died in the internment camps and will not be forgotten.;
5. Taking Social Action-While Japanese-Americans comprised the overwhelming majority of those in the camps, thousands of Americans of German, Italian, and other European descent were also forced to relocate there. Many more were classified as "enemy aliens" and subject to increased restrictions. As of 2004, the U.S. Government has made no formal apology or reparations to those affected. The following organizations aim to exchange information on Japanese culture, community, history, social services, and public policy issues.
Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo Service Center, Rafu Shimpo, Japanese American Network.

Internet Sites:
1. (Shows photographs of what education, living, labor, and buildings were like during this time period)

2. (Provides books, DVD’s, posters on WWII Japanese Internment camps and activities teachers can use)

3. (Provides free multidisciplinary curriculum unit lessons that introduce students to questions of civil liberties in relation to the life experiences of Japanese Americans.)

4. (Lists many unread web documents that many US history texts fail to mention, a timeline of events, and photographs)

5. (Site where one can purchase the book)



By Peter Halowitz

Summary: Scribbleville is a book about a town of people and things that are made up of wavy and curly lines – scribbles. One day a new comer comes to town that looks very different from everything in town. The man was not made of squiggles and waves, he was made all of straight lines, and so was his house and so was his yard and clothes. Everyone in town thinks the man is strange and wonders why he is there in the first place. And when one of their own scribbled villagers begins chatting and befriending the stick man, an interesting change in town begins to take place.

Reflection: Scribbleville is a great story with simple but captivating illustrations and lyrical narration. The book emphasizes the importance of acknowledging the differences between others and recognizing how these differences could be celebrated. The book offers various views of how others may see each others differences or how one may or may not respond to being viewed as different. Scribbleville carries a positive theme about the friendship and love that can be created between others no matter how different they are. Book Use/Activities/Curricular Units: This book lends itself easily to discussions in topics of individuality, the changes people can make and the acceptance of others. The book provides ideas as to how people affect one another and how the differences that are or are not noticeable can make a positive impact on others. Students can relate to the text in describing ways in which they are different from everyone and how their differences can help others.

Domain of Social Justice Education:

1) Self-Love and Acceptance: When the stickman comes to Scribbleville and is stared at and judged by the people of the town he does not let their judgments get to him and focuses on his happy life.
2.) Respect for Others- Strengthens intercultural competence. Though the Stickman is being judged by others he does not do the same to them.
3.) Exploring Issues of Social Justice- Racism, Classism, Sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression are confronted. The scribbled Woman befriends the stickman.4.) Social Movements and Social Change- Students learn how people have struggled for social change. The scribbled woman befriends the stickman and the scribbled boy in the story takes notice and draws a picture using both straight and squiggled lines. The stickman and scribbled woman begin using straight or squiggled lines in their wardrobe and everyday life together.
5.) Taking Social Action- Students explore their own context and develop tools to work for change. The scribbled boy shares his drawing and people in Scribbleville begin using wearing straight lines in their clothing and to decorate.

Mrs. Katz and Tush

Author: Patricia Polacco


Mrs. Katz is Larnel’s neighbor whom he doesn’t know very well, but is very good friends with his mother. All that changes however when Larnel learns Mrs. Katz’s husband passed away recently. He decides to go over by himself one day, and asks Mrs. Katz to adopt an abandoned kitten. Mrs. Katz agrees under one condition: Larnel must help her take care of the kitten. Larnel agrees and as he begins to spend more time with Mrs. Katz and the kitten whom she names Tush, Larnel learns a lot from Mrs. Katz. Mrs. Katz tells him stories about all the good times she spent with her husband and about coming to America from Poland. As Larnel grows to love Mrs. Katz, he also learns about the difficulties of Mrs. Katz past, and begins to understand the troubles and triumph black history shares with the Jewish heritage.


I thought this book was wonderfully written, and exposed the reader to a variety of important concepts that were weaved into the story beautifully. Mrs. Katz and Tush touches upon the relationships that are established between generations, and the importance of learning from one another and building on that. Mrs. Katz is significantly older than Larnel, and throughout the book as she shares the different types of traditions with Larnel, Larnel makes it a point to not just understand but to become a part of those traditions. Not only does this exhibit acceptance of different cultures, but it displays the respect the two have for each other. Just because Mrs. Katz was older, Larnel did not judge her or make assumptions off of that. He was open-minded and displayed a willingness to learn. The importance of tradition was also exposed throughout the book. Mrs. Katz and Larnel together go to the cemetery to place small rocks on the top of Mr. Katz’s headstone, and Larnel asks if he could spend Passover with Mrs. Katz. I believe these parts, along with other sections of the book relay that importance of carrying on traditions that are passed down from generation to generation, whether it be religious, cultural, etc. On a much larger picture, this book also touches upon difficulties two different cultures experienced in history. The point I believe that was trying to get across was, even though Mrs. Katz and Larnel came from two different backgrounds, the suffering and challenges that their people faced were similar. In addition to understanding that both cultures were faced with similar and different situations, that were harsh and unfair, the one important commonality between both groups was the feeling of pain and unfair treatment.

I also felt the pictures in Mrs. Katz and Tush expressed a lot of emotion to the reader. Each page represented emotions so powerfully, that when reading the text and looking at the pictures on the same page, I began to sympathize with the characters.

How would I use the book towards curricular units:

A whole unit can be done on hardships different cultures have faced, and students can identify that people of different cultures have been treated poorly and put in unfair situations but they’ve all experienced the same feeling of pain and suffering.
Students can learn about the importance of their traditions and values, along with the respect and acceptance of other traditions.

Domains of Social Justice:

1) Domains of self-love and acceptance: Students identify their own traditions and learn to appreciate and accept the values and traditions exhibited in their families, culture, etc.

2) Respect for others: Students learn to appreciate the traditions and cultures of others.

3) Exploring issues of social justice: Students research and learn about different time periods where cultures were faced with oppression. More importantly, students explore and understand that suffering still occurs today, throughout the world.

4) Social movements and social change: Change the rules around in the classroom and ask students if they wanted the rules to go back to the original way, what actions could they take. Identify how different groups in the past responded to injustice.

5) Taking Social Action: Students explore an issue of injustice- look up an organization that speaks out for social change and identify ways they can become a part of it.

Kids' Multicultural Cookbook

Title: The Kids' Multicultural Cookbook: Food and Fun Around the World
Author: Deanna F. Cook

Summary: This book emphasizes that cooking is a fun way for kids to learn about cultures around the world. Just by looking at the ingredients kids will get a sense of what foods are available in other countries. Also, in more careful reading of the recipes, kids will discover how foods are prepared differently in other countries. Each recipes includes fun facts and figures about the country of origin. It often highlights the ways that kids help their families prepare food and participate in their countries' traditions. By the end of the book students have traveled to 41 countries thinking they have only used their taste buds, but really it involved so much more.

Reflection: I chose this book because of its initial colorful, fun appeal. It is very kid-friendly and engaging. It breaks down recipes into easy steps and offers reason why a culture may eat this food. It attributes unique and interesting facts and foods to each country to make exciting reading. I also liked how children from each country are highlighted among the recipes so students can see children like themselves also participating in cooking.

How I could use this book: This book is excellent in units of study about food, restaurants or various topics about other countries. My 1st grade class is currently using this book in their restaurant theme study. They will talk about restaurants, foods and customs first in their own families and the local area and then branch out internationally. This would be a great resource of student's to take home and try or choose a recipe to cook as a class. It would be fun to have an international tasting day where students could bring a dish to share from their family's country of origin. Yoko is another book that could be used with this book in order to expose children to new foods and cultures.

Domains of Social Justice: This book definitely hits the first tow levels of social justice, Self-love and Acceptance and Respect for Others. I think its so important that children are exposed to new cultures and foods as early as possible so they can continue to grow and learn with an open mind. I think that I wasted so much time as a child eating chicken nuggets and I'd want my students to experience what else is out there way early than I was. They will also develop a new respect of their family's traditions and have pride in themselves.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Name Jar

Title: The Name Jar

Author: Yangsook Choi

Summary: In this book a young girl, Unhei, comes to America with her family and must leave behind her life and grandmother in Korea. One thing that she brings with her is a wooden stamp with Korean characters on it that spell out her name, Unhei. This is something that Unhei cherishes because it reminds her of her grandmother and Korea.

When she arrives in America she begins school right away. When she tells children on the bus her name they can not pronounce it, make fun of it, and wonder why it is so different. Due to this experience Unhei tells her class that she does not have a name and needs to pick one out. From there her classmates decide to create a name jar which she can use as help in picking out a name. They decide they will all write names on pieces of paper and Unhei can choose the one she likes best as her new name. During this time she meets a young boy who befriends her and learns her Korean name.

The following day the name jar goes missing and after searching for it Unhei tells her classmates she is ready to introduce herself. She explains to the class that her name is Unhei and also helps her classmates pronounce her name correctly. After this the young boy admits that he stole the name jar so that Unhei would pick her Korean name over the other names. The boy shows her that he has a character stamp too. This stamp says friend. His acts and hers lead to her class learning how to accept others and take part in social justice.

Reflections: I liked this book because it is very versatile and could be used within many grades. It is simple enough to be read to first graders but could also be used in older grades. It is a short book but it presents an important lesson which is that acceptance is something that you have to have for your self and others. It could be used for a read aloud and then be branched off into conversations of different levels of intensity regarding the age of students. Regardless of the conversation and the material that is included along with the story, the book will create a powerful reaction on the part of students as they learn about Unhei’s journey to accept herself and have others accept her as well.

How would I use the book/curricular units: As mentioned above, this book could be used for students as young as first graders and span in use to third and fourth grade classrooms. I would use it in the beginning of the school year during the first week of class. It could be read aloud to students and then lead into a conversation about acceptance. Students could talk about how they would define acceptance and how it is shown in the book. The book could also be used in literacy lessons in which students can write about their names and what they think someone would have to do to show acceptance towards it. The students could read these responses and create a list of acts that show acceptance from all their ideas. The teacher can chart these ideas and then post them in the class as goals that all students should follow. The book could also be used in a cause and effect lesson. After reading the book, students could point out causes in the book and then figure out the effects. When this is complete then other events could be used as examples and students could continue work on cause and effects.

Domains of Social Justice:

1. Domain of self love and acceptance:

Students will lean about how Unhei comes to find acceptance of herself and her name. They will get to go on her journey and see the importance of loving oneself and appreciating others. Even though Unhei had to leave Korea and go to a school where people were not the same as her, she found out that it is important to be proud of who she is. This will enable students to see how important it is for them to appreciate and care about who they are.

2. Respect for Others:

In this book students get to see examples of how people do respect others and ways that they do not. During Unhei’s first bus ride to her new school, her peers show examples of how people do not respect others. However, later the students are introduced to the young boy who gets to know Unhei. He wants to know about her Korean name and all about her culture. His acceptance of who she is and her culture spreads through out the classroom when she tells her classmates her Korean name.

3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice:

In this book students are introduced to the harm that comes from not accepting others and how it is an issue of social justice. Our name is a part of our culture, and our cultures should be accepted by all. If this is not the case people are often left feeling bad about themselves and do things such as denying their name such as Unhei did.

4. Social Movements and Social Change:

While reading this book, students learn about how to appreciate others and how to create this acceptance in others. They learn about how the young boy accepts and appreciates Unhei and her culture and then see how he helps others do this as well. By taking away the name jar, the young boy pushes for social movement by helping Unhei introduce herself and educate her classmates about who she was and about her culture. Students are able to see the positive results of this and also see how they can do this their selves.

Mrs. Katz and Tush- Patricia Polacco

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Moonstick: The Seasons of the Sioux
Author: Eve Bunting
Illustrator: John Sandford
Grades: K-5

This book describes how the Sioux Indians used a Moonstick as a type of calendar, marking a notch on a stick for each of the 13 moons of the Sioux year. Each moon marks an important change in nature, such as the time when buffalo give birth to calves, which usually indicates an important event in the culture. For the narrator, an unnamed Sioux boy, the moons mark the time that must pass before he can hunt, dance, and wear snowshoes like his father and older brothers. Each of the 13 moons is described as a notch is added to the illustration of the moonstick, with a short poem-like description for each season. In the end, the reader is brought to a more modern time, and the Sioux boy is now an old man that lives in a town and sells headdresses and beadwork, while his brother works in a barbershop. It is a sudden and drastic change from the rest of the book, which depicted the Sioux in traditional dress and activity. The pictures on the last two pages show farms, roads, telephone lines, and tractors, revealing that within the man's lifetime, there were drastic changes. It seems as if the traditions and culture of the Sioux are gone, until the last page when the old man passes a Moonstick to his grandson, showing that tradition can live on, even if the world around them is changing.

I thought this a beautifully written and illustrated book that provides a sensitive and truthful view into the Sioux culture. The book seeks to show that although ancestral traditions have passed, there are ways to continue learning and carrying on traditions. As the father of the young narrator notches a moonstick at the beginning of each of the 13 moons of the Sioux year, and the boy notes his father’s words. The father observes philosophically that "life cannot be without sadness," for buffalo or for Sioux when discussing the hunt, which foreshadows the ending of the book. At one point, when the boy notices the land covered in snow, his father says, “changes come and will come again. It is so arranged.'' Soon it is time for a new moonstick, but then the book jumps to the boy as an old man, wearing more modern clothing, and the reader realizes that many moons have passed. Throughout the book, traditional Sioux dress and decoration are depicted for each event as the speaker celebrates the activities and ideas proper to each month. The two final pictures are a bit unexpected as it goes from a traditional depiction of Native Americans, wearing headdresses and living off the land, but the end shows the young boy, now an old man, in present day, with the words, "Many winters have passed.” He now lives in town and does not hunt. At first, this was very saddening to see, as the man looks out the window and explains how his culture is gone, but it is more uplifting when the narrator takes his small grandson to cut a stick, to pass on his father's wisdom and note that changes will come again. This really made me think about how important it is to carry on tradition, and also how sad it is that many people don not realize that Native Americans still live today, although small in population, they are part of the present. This book makes that connection and brings awareness to the changes in our country that greatly impacted the Native Americans way of living and the existence of their people.

I think this book can be used across a wide range of grades because it sparks many questions and gives rise to different interpretations and ideas. The language and writing is simple, although there are several Native American words and ideas that mat be explained, but overall, I think students can read, listen to and appreciate this book. It can be used to introduce the Sioux culture and learn about traditions and special events they celebrated, such as when a boy is old enough to hunt.
This can also lead into discussions about what happened to the Sioux Nation, and why the changed occurred at the end of the story. The students will explore the reasons for the decrease of the Native American population and how colonization, westward expansion, and industrialization affected their lives.
Students will interview a Native American, or have a speaker come in to discuss their culture and history. The students can research and write letters to organizations to support Native American reservations and their communities. They can organize a rally or protest during elections or meetings about laws and acts involving Native American or other groups they know about that have been treated unjustly.
The students can think about their own cultures and research traditions of their ancestors through books, oral histories and interviews. They can make connections to their cultures by learning about which traditions are no longer observed and which traditions they still carry on.
The book can also provide insight into different calendar systems. The students can learn about different calendars and create their own based on the changes they see, or important event in their lives.

Domains of Social Justice:
1) Self-love and Acceptance: Student of Native American background may identify with the story and the changing of their culture, while other students will learn to appreciate their ancestral culture and traditions, and connect the traditions they follow with their ancestors.

2) Respect for Others: Students will learn about the Sioux nation and discuss their traditions and beliefs presenting in this book. They will learn that the Sioux were one of the many Native American tribes that inhabited the land we live on today, and they have a rich culture to share.

3) Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students will discuss what happened to the Sioux Nation, as well as other Native American nations and tribes. They will discuss how racism affected the Native American population, and how European settlers and white pioneers sought to “reform” and oppress these indigenous people.

4) Social Movements and Social Change: Students will learn how Native American resisted oppression and fought to stay on their land. They will learn about laws that took land away from the Native Americans, as well as recent laws that have tried to counteract these now that the U.S. has realized the impact of their actions.

5) Taking Social Action: Students will be able to meet and talk to a Native American that is active in changing the laws and proving for his community. They will learn more about what types of laws there are, and what people can do to support Native American communities and reservations to help their society thrive. They can write letters provide support in other ways, not only on issues regarding Native Americans, but also other cultures that they have researched and found that their people are being oppressed.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Mighty by Rodman Philbrick

Title: The Mighty
Author: Rodman Philbrick
Summary: This novel is about 2 very different individuals who become best friends. Max, who is known as the giant because of his size, is made fun of as stupid and slow because of he has a learning disability. Kevin, the genius, but is made fun of because he is tiny and has a leg brace on. When Kevin was asked to tutor Max, they become the best of friends, and together they fight their way through their struggles and live a happy several months together, until Kevin leaves the world forever.
Reflection: The story of this book takes a somewhat different approach into social justice than a lot of the other books that I have found/read about. Likewise to the other books, this one talks about 2 individuals who are considered "different" from others. However, unlike the other books that talk about race, gender and so forth, this one talks about disabilities: learning and physical. This book brings a strong message to readers, emphasizing the power of being different and unique, but more importantly, the importance of self and peer acceptance. When one accepts who they are and who their friends are, it really does not matter what disabilities they have.
How would I use the book/curricular units: This book, I will use for upper elementary grades, 5-6. Of course, this book serves as a good resource to use for character development and character comparison lessons. This can also be a good unit for friendship, respect, being different and learning about disabilities. Students can discuss how they are unique, when they have been made fun of, and role playing can be used to represent these situations, extended with strategies and how people should treat others.

Social Justice:
1. Self-Love eand Acceptance: students learn to accept who they are and their uniqueness. They learn to understand that everyone is unique in their own ways and it's okay.
2. Respect for Others: Students learn that in addition to accepting themselves for who they are, they need to learn to understand and accept others for who they are. For some students, this may be an easier task than accepting themselves. However, for both 1 and 2, by students first starting to think about acceptance by taking role as either Max or Kevin, then slowly transitioning to their own lives may make these tasks easier.
3./4.Exploring Issues of Social Justice/Social Movements and Social Change: Students will role play and make videos of appropriate ways of treating others who are different than they are. They will make PDAs of respect, disabilities and other topics that stems out from this book.
5. Taking Social Action: Students can send letters to companies and places that discriminates against the disabled.

Mi sueno de America/My American Dream

Title: Mi sueno de America/My American Dream
Author: Yuliana Gallegos

Summary: This story is really special because it is autobiographical. It was written by a twelve-year-old girl who moved from Monterrey, Mexico to Houston, Texas. What is even more wonderful is that the book is in both English and Spanish. Yuli, a fourth grader new to the United States is struck with culture shock when she enters her new Houston school. She quickly realizes that her English is not as good as she had thought. She cannot understand the teacher, and no one seems to want to help her. In fact, none of the students seem interested in her at all. With the help of a devoted family, she improves her English and works her way to the top of her class. Others seem to like her now. However, when she isn't invited to a "friend's" birthday party, she quickly realizes who her true friends are.

How I would use this in a classroom: This book is a wonderful way to encourage students in their writing. Yuli wrote this story as a twelve-year-old. It is a wonderful example of personal narrative writing. However, I think the most important part of this book is the story itself. Yuli was able to capture the emotional journey one takes when encountering a new culture as a child. Her thoughts were honest and sincere. In the end, she is able to find herself with another girl from Japan. I would also use this book for the Spanish. For students who come from Spanish speaking homes, reading a book that has Spanish in it will emphasize the importance of both languages in their lives.

Domains of Social Justice:

1.) Self-Love and Acceptance: Children learn about their own culture. Yuliana's culture is emphasized by her experiences in a new country. Not only does Yuliana learn to find her place in her new community by being herself, but she makes friends with a girl from Japan. Despite their different cultures, they find friendship in each other's similar experiences in a foreign country. In addition, the Spanish in the book makes Spanish just as important as English.

2.) Respect for Others: Strengthens intercultural competence. Yuliana is not judgmental of her seemingly unfriendly peers. Her mother always reminds her that it is hard for everyone to be around new people at first. Eventually, Yuli becomes friends with a girl from Japan.

3.) Exploring Issues of Social Justice- Racism, Classism, Sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression are confronted. Yuli seems to think that many of the students do not talk to her because they do not like people from Mexico. She notices that they help Shoko, her friend from Japan, just not her. It is not until she learns English fluently that they even say "Hello" to her.

Is There Really a Human Race? By: Jamie Lee Curtis

Title: Is There Really a Human Race?

Authors: Jamie Lee Curtis

illustrator: Laura Cornell

With the opening question "Is there really a human race?", this book talks about the human race as if it were an actual running race. Through out, it asks questions about getting ahead in life and why we compete with each other. It asks about cheating and making mistakes. However, toward the end of the book, it asks what would happen if we did not slow down and help each other. We will all CRASH, is the answer. the ultimate message of the book is to try your best and do what you can to help others in the race and make this place a better one for everyone you encounter during that race.

The play on words for the message of "race" was so cute and hysterical. Children sometimes have a hard time time considering things that are not concrete. It was genius in this case to relate such an abstract topic to something concrete that kids can relate to. The message of the book is such a basic but enormously important one to relay to students. Though it is important to be successful and run in the race, the race would not be possible if we do not help each other to succeed. Something that we have talked about a lot is the idea of allies. This book really promotes the idea that allies make the race even happen.

How to Use This Book in the Curriculum:
Since the book focuses on the human race, it would be a wonderful starting point to talk about "the human race" as we usually refer to it- people all over the world. Students sometimes have a hard time considering things aside from the world they live in. Expanding their horizons and making them aware of people outside their immediate community is a hard but possible feat. Studying people in the social studies curriculum would be enhanced by this book greatly. Also, the book is written in rhyme form. The TC curriculum does a lot with poetry and word study. Using this book within TC curriculum would be a great fit.

Domains of Social Justice:

1. Self-Love and Acceptance : Students learn to love themselves for who they are and understand that it is okay if they are not first or even second to finish the race.
2. Respect for Others: Students learn that the most important part of the race is to slow down help those who cannot finish the race themselves. If we do not help each other, no one will succeed.
3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students will explore that some people may need help in finishing the race, and some people do not want to help them. It is their responsibility to help those people in need and to change the mind and ways of those who do not want to help others.
4. Social Movements and Social Change: Students learn about how to be allies for those who cannot speak up for themselves. It is not enough to think about themselves, they must think about and help those around them to finish the race.


Are You a Boy or a Girl

Title: Are You a Boy or a Girl?

Author: Karleen Pendleton Jiminez

Summary: Told through photographs, drawings and a very approachable storyline, this story is about a girl who doesn't like to do many of the things that are stereotypically considered "girl things" to do, such as playing with make-up and dolls. She didn't think anything was wrong with that, because she was who she was and she liked what she liked, but many of her peers teased her and asked her if she was a boy or a girl, based on her haircut, her toys, and her athletic abilities. As she grew up, she constantly found herself defending her gender and having to answer to other people for her choices. She went home to her mom, very upset, and her mom explained to her that there are all types of people, with all types of interests, and essentially that's what makes her special, and eventually other people will understand her more.

From the title page of the book:
"Kids spend a lot of time debating with each other over what makes a boy a boy and a girl a girl. It's a time of choices. It's a time of creating themselves. It could be a time for blending and embracing the many ways they express themselves, but it is too often a time of narrowing the possibilities of who they can be.
Are You a Boy or a Girl? enters into this conversation and opens it up. It is the story of a child thinking through who she is, a child learning through her mother's love how to be both strong and soft."

Reflections: This story is simple and a quick read that will make a great read-aloud in the morning on any day of school followed by a powerful conversation. I think that the story brings an important issue to light in a way that is appropriate for students of young ages, and gets them thinking about the way they look at people and judge them, and how much assumptions and mean-spirited questions can hurt others.

How would I use the book/curricular units: I would use this book with any class from Pre-School aged students through third or fourth grade, depending on the strength of the community within the classroom. It opens up the conversation about gender roles and gender-based stereotypes in a gentle, familiar way for students to explore and discuss. Some questions I would use to motivate the conversation include "Why are certain activities and choices considered "girl things" and "boy things"? Do they have to be?" I would have students sort out activities and objects such as a baseball and a hat into categories of "boy things" "girl things" and "anybody things" before reading the book, and then begin the discussion by asking them to defend some of their choices to place things in gender specific categories. After reading the book, we could look back to our sorted objects and activities and acknowledge that all of them could fit into the "anybody" category. TC wise, we could also explore character speech and analyze the way the other people in the story spoke to the main character, and see what we know about them based on what they said. We could look at the different between an inference in literature and an assumption about another person in older grades (2nd, 3rd, 4th).

Domains of Social Justice:
1. Domain of self love and acceptance:
Students will feel more confident making choices based on their own feelings and not based on what they think they need to do based on their gender. Students will accept their own feelings and choices.
2. Respect for Others:
Students will respect the choices and interests of others, even when they are different from their own.
3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice:
Students will understand that words can be hurtful and stereotypes can lead to hateful speech and unfounded assumptions and judgements about others.

Internet Links:
Book for sale on

Monday, March 3, 2008

Leo the Late Bloomer

Leo The Late Bloomer
Author: Robert Kraus
Pictures by Jose Aruego

Summary: Leo is a tiger that cannot do anything. He can't read, write, draw, speak, nor eat properly. His father asks what was wrong, but his mother says that Leo is just a late bloomer. The father watches Leo, but he still sees no progress. After the mother told him that a bloomer cannot bloom when being watched, Leo's father stopped watching. Then one day, Leo was able to read, write, draw, and eat properly. When he spoke, he said a whole phrase. "I made it!"

Reflection: I liked this book because it was so simple, yet it had a strong lesson to it. The pictures told a thousand words, even when there were actually only a few words on the page. The tiger looked sad while all the other animals looked like they were "normal" and they were able to do the things Leo couldn't. I think the book works for all grade levels, which is one of the reasons why I like it so much.

Activities: It was hard at first to come up with activities from such a "simple" book, but when I looked into it more deeply, I realize that there are a few things I can do with it. Students can make a list of answers to the following questions: Do you remember the first time that you ___? (walked, talked, wrote, drew, etc.) If so, how did it feel and when were you first able to do it? Have students share and then read the book. After the story, ask students if they have ever made a judgment on someone based on when they did something that they felt was slower or faster than someone else (the rate of development). Then have students respond to the story - did they think Leo would ever bloom? How do they think he felt when he could not eat as nicely as all the other animals? Have a class discussion. In addition to this discussion, the teacher can talk about how everyone inherits genes and characteristics from their parents. Put an emphasis that everyone grows and develops at a different rate and that it is important to respect each other for that.
Another activity is to ask students to picture people with disabilities and those who are physically disabled or even blind and deaf. Discuss physical and developmental challenges and be sensitive to all. Have students develop reasons for accepting people for their characters and not appearance. Help them understand why it is important to accept for what is on the inside rather than make judgments for what they see on the outside. Make a chart and segway into respect, diversity, and tolerance in the classroom.

Social Justice Domain:
1. Self-Love and Acceptance : Students learn to love themselves for who they are. They will understand that it is okay if they are growing at a different rate than someone else.
2. Respect for Others: Students learn that in addition to accepting themselves, they have to tolerate others. It is not the appearance that they need to accept, but the characters of the people and who they are.
3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students will explore the meaning of the rate of development and confront forms of oppression that occur, such as bullying someone for being "slower" or "shorter."
4. Social Movements and Social Change: Students learn how they can help one another by learning that classroom behaviors towards one another will help one another learn. They will learn to speak up against those who look down upon late bloomers.
5. Taking Social Action: Students can teach others about the importance of accepting one another for the way they are because everyone is different, and everyone has a different rate of development. When they see someone being teased, for example, they will speak up.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Pink and Say

Title & Author: Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco


Reflection of the book: This book is about two boys, Pink and Say, who are both soldiers “flying Union colors,” who befriend each other in the midst of the Civil War. Pink finds Say, wounded and hurt, and takes him home where he and his mother nurse him back to health. However, knowing that they are putting Pink’s mother in danger by staying there, they decide to leave. One step too late, though, and the marauders come to their house. Pink’s mother hides the two boys in her cellar, and ends up being killed. The two boys run off, only to be captured by Confederate soldiers; they are separated, never to see each other again.

I like the book because of the strong friendship the two boys had between each other, despite the time period when many people disapproved of interracial friendships. Also, the book falls into the genre of historical fiction – the story was passed down to the author, Patricia Polacco, from generations past. It is a friendship that the “real” Pink believed was important and influential enough to pass down to his children, and a story Polacco believed was important enough to put into print.

How would you use the book?

I would use this book within a genre study of friendship, historical fiction, an author study or even a history unit on the Civil War. The book is high in content material, so would be suitable even for 3rd or 4rth grade. However, the illustrations are great that even a younger audience would appreciate the book.

For a historical fiction unit, this book can be used as a read aloud (though it may be best to only read parts of the book at a time due to its length) to introduce historical fiction. Students can discuss what elements they see that are different from what they know. Students can also see how there are historical elements placed into the book, and that they need to have at least a small understanding of those historical elements to fully understand the book. In a historical unit, this book can demonstrate how segregation and war affected people. Students can read the book with a greater understanding of the life and hardships during that time. Students may even be able to better relate to the book, as the main characters are young in age.

How does it fall into the domains of SJE?

This book addresses “Respect for Others.” The book demonstrates how Pink, an African American, went out of his way to rescue and bring Say, a White soldier, back to his home. The two characters in the book did not let color and differences hinder them from developing a strong friendship.

This book addresses “Exploring Issues of Social Justice.” At the end of the book, when Pink and Say are separated, the author states Pink was hanged a few hours after he was separated from Say, whereas Say was placed into a jail for the remainder of the war. If Pink had been White, would he have been placed into a jail cell, and bypassed death? Most likely. Students will begin to gain an understanding of the forms of oppression between races from reading this book, and will see why those factors led to the Civil War.

What curricular units does it connect to? Friendship, Historical Fiction

You Think It's Easy Being the Tooth Fairy?

You Think It's Easy Being the Tooth Fairy? by Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt

Summary: You Think It's Easy Being the Tooth Fairy? is the story of the Tooth Fairy. This is not the sterotypical Tooth Fairy. She describes herself as "an action kind of gal" who is tough and smart. She describes how much work it is to go from house to house each night and collect and carry hundreds of teeth. She uses all sorts of gadgets technology to help her along the way, such as her Tooth-o-Finder, which locates teeth that have fallen out of children's mouths. You Think It's Easy Being the Tooth Fairy is a fresh look at the Tooth Fairy and fairies in general.

Reflections: I first read this book as a bedtime story. I thought it was cute, but had not really put any thought into the story. Then we did the workshop on Fairy Tales and stereotypes and I realized that this story is a wonderful way to look at the stereotypes that society has about fairies and females. The Tooth Fairy in this story does not wear dresses and carry a magic wand. She wears a jumpsuit and has spy-like gadgets that help her to locate and collect children's teeth. She also has no issues saying she is athletic. She does not want help from anyone. I think that this story would be a way to show positive representations of females to children.

How would I use the book/curriculum units: As a mentioned above, this book would be a good way to introduce stereotypes in a classroom with younger children. The teacher could use this book in conjunction with another book about the Tooth Fairy or any other fairy. The children could listen to both stories and look at the differences and similarities they find. The teacher could lead a discussion about how boys and girls like to do a lot of the same things and a lot of different things. The students should begin to see that gender should not be a determinant as to what someone does.

Domains of Social Justice:
1) Self-love and acceptance: Students will learn the love the activities that they do and not worry about whether boys should do that or girls should dot that.
2) Respect for others: Students will learn to respect others and the special things about them. They will learn not to stereotype people based on who they are.
3) Exploring issues of social justice: Students will start to see how groups of people are stereotyped within society. They will see how it effects people negatively.

The Name Jar

Summary: The Name Jar is a story about Unhei, a girl who has recently arrived to the U.S. from Korea. When she tells the students her name on her bus ride to school, the students tease her about her name. She becomes embarrassed about her name and hesitates to tell her classmates when they ask. Instead, she tells them that she just has not decided on a name yet. Her classmates give her suggestions for names, and she puts them in a jar. She has a difficult time choosing a name that suits her, trying out the different names but never liking the names enough to keep them. Eventually, with the help of a friend, she decides to keep her name because she realizes that she likes her name just the way it is and is proud to share it with the class.

Reflection: What I like about this book is that it teaches students to not just accept but to embrace their own culture. Unhei ultimately keeps her name, not simply because she could not find a better alternative but because she realizes the importance and uniqueness of her name. I also like how students can learn a little more about the Korean culture, as it makes some reference to it.

How I Would Use This Book/Curriculum Units:

This book would help in building a strong and supportive community in the classroom at the beginning of the year. Students can research the origins of their own names and/or their meanings and then share what they have found with the rest of the class. Students will then be able to learn more about each other and become more comfortable with one another. Additionally, students can also do research on their own culture and share this with the class. This will be accompanied by a discussion on differences in culture or otherwise and how being different is a positive thing and how it makes us all unique. This book can also be a part of a math unit on probability, as an introduction or the basis to a word problem. Students can figure out the probability of Unhei drawing one of her classmates’ names if she had decided to go with that strategy of picking a name from a jar.

Domains of Social Justice:

1) Self-Love and Acceptance: Students will learn that they should be proud of their own culture because it is such an important part of who they are.

2) Respect for Others: Students learn about the origin of other students’ names, and they learn about other students’ cultures as well. They do this by listening and keeping an open mind about others’ cultures, thereby showing respect to each other and their cultures.

3) Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students will learn about behaviors that may seem harmless but actually have negative cultural implications to them such as making fun of someone else’s ethnic name.

5) Taking Social Action: Students will learn that they should say something if they hear people teasing other people about their name or culture.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Ten Amazing People and How They Changed the World

Title: Ten Amazing People and How They Changed the World
Author: Maura Shaw
Age Range: 6 and up
Summary: This is a non-fiction reference book to keep in your classroom. Each with a four-page spread, ten different peaceful leaders and advocates of social change are highlighted in this book. These leaders include: Black Elk, Dorothy Day, Malcolm X, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Janusz Korczak, Mother Teresa, Albert Schweitzer, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Desmond Tutu. While some of the individuals are well-known, this book includes lesser-known names. Furthermore, the range of individuals is quite diverse, including individuals from many different countries, religions, cultures, and with different causes.

Reflections: I was immediately drawn in by the fantastic illustrations in this book. (In the back there are even a few sentences explaining each illustration). The language is very accessible to children. For younger children, it is a great way to introduce them to different leaders. Besides a general overview of each person and a stunning portrait, there are “Fascinating Facts,” a timeline of important events, famous quotes, and sometimes important vocabulary for each of these leaders. The book is very visually stimulating (without being overwhelming) in order to help attract kids to reading this book. For older children, this book is a great starting point for them to understand some of these extraordinary individuals.

How to use this book in the curriculum:
- great Read Aloud
- a model for features of non-fiction
- could be used during a biography unit
- could be used during a research unit

Domains of Social Justice:
Self-Love and Acceptance – If any of my students share the same background of one of these individuals they are learning about how their people have made a difference in the world, creating a sense of pride.
Respect for Others – This book includes different leaders of many cultures and which have worked along side an even wider range of people from around the world. This introduction to these leaders and their work will increase my students’ intercultural competence.
Exploring Issues of Social Justice – Because each of these leaders have various causes for which they fought, the readers will be exposed to a variety of issues of social justice.
Social Movements and Social Change – This book mostly falls under this category. Though not an in-depth book focusing on one person, this book will help students learn about ten different figures in history which have struggled for social change.