Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Family Under the Bridge

The Family Under the Bridge
Written by Natalie Savage Carlson
Pictures by Garth Williams
Presented by Jackie, Joanne, & Katie

The story is about a homeless man named Armand, who says he is 
homeless by choice. He likes living his life without having a job -
and says children are like starlings and it's better to live without
One day three children and their mother move out under the bridge in
 "his spot." When Armand discovers this he is very upset and
 tries to kick the children out. But the children do not understand
 completely, so they try to appease him by making him "his own room."
 The mother comes back and is protective, and does not appreciate Armand
 being there. She tells him to leave and never come back. However,
 Armand is touched by the children and their situation - he feels the
 need to help them out. He takes them to see Santa Claus and the
 children ask Santa to give them a real home.
 As Armand grows to love the children more and more, he realizes that
 in order to provide for them he will need to get a job and have a real
 home. So he gets a job as a caretaker of a building, which comes with
 the added benefit of a free home.

In our reflection, it makes us think about the different reasons for
 homelessness and whether or not it is actually a personal choice or 
true helplessness. In addition, it also touches on lifestyles that are
 not socially acceptable, like the gypsy lifestyle. One thing that was
 surprising, was a strong lack of a parental role due to the mother
 going off and working - leaving the children there. The duty she had
 to bring home the bread caused her to neglect them in a sense. At one 
point, her children are almost taken away from her as a result. This
 was a very touching story about a man discovering who he really was a
nd what really mattered to him - "his heart grew three sizes." 
One of the things this book really seems to lend itself to is "the 
conversation starter." You can go so many places within the realm of
 social justice just by beginning that talk of what does socially
 acceptable mean and how much worth should the phrase actually have. So 
perhaps this is good to read in the beginning of the year to create a community for social justice. This can go into a unit on needs
 and wants really well - what getting those things really means – and
 it also shows kids who maybe do not see their parents/guardians as
 often as they'd like why and what they are doing and that it is for

Domains of Social Justice

1.Self-love and Acceptance: Children are able to explore self-love and acceptance through Armand’s gradual acceptance of and loving himself and those around him.
2.Respect for Others: This book displays the respect and diversity of various cultures, particularly the gypsy culture. it also allows students to explore “social acceptance” and moreover, students are able to understand other people's needs and their own – it can help students explore and notice perspectives of their surrounding cultures and their own.
3.Exploring Issues of Social Justice: This book allows students to explore issues of homelessness, different types of families, poverty, hunger, 
sexism, ageism, and classism -they can even go further in learning about how each of these are interrelated to one another.
4.Social Movements and Social Change:
 Students can explore and learn how people have struggled for social change. Students can learn about the various factors that lead to homelessness and poverty and its effects on people in the present. Students can explore and learn about the similarities and differences in the -isms that exist in the book (written in the ninteen fifties) to the present time [there's about a fifty year time gap]. Students can research and learn about what people have done and have been doing to not only reach out to people affected by poverty/homelessness/hunger and -isms, but also expose others to the ramification of these issues, including various family models.
5.Taking Social Action: Students can take in and implement their learnings on social justice issues by creating a community showcase of presentations. Also, they can focus on homelessness and poverty in their own community and go further into seeking ways to make a difference and exploring the idea of “socially acceptable” and “needs and wants” through concrete and visible evidences around them. They can seek out organizations that are a part of their community to help them take social action through service and promotion – whether it is having a meeting/interview with those who work with the homeless population or going to a soup kitchen and serving and reporting back about their experiences through various means with the class.


: Pinkalicious
Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann
Group: Amy Chan, Lilian Ng, Angelia Lui

Pinkalicious loves the color pink. She wears pink, owns only pink things, and paints in pink all the time. The problem is, though, that black is the color that is considered “cool”, not pink, and all the other girls in her class tease her maliciously because of her love of everything pink. They also refuse to play with Pinkalicious because of this, leaving her to play alone after school. Pinkalicious becomes so upset by the teasing and the lack of friends that she goes home and cries, feeling like nobody understands her and that she is all alone in this world. She even decides to not like pink anymore, opting to wear blue instead and eating a plain vanilla ice cream, not her favorite Plum Pink Perfection ice cream. Then one day, Pinkalicious notices a girl in art class drawing a beautiful picture of a blue cake. Much to Pinkalicious’ surprise, the girl actually likes pink and even insists that it would be the perfect color to add to her picture. In the end, Pinkalici
ous has finally found someone who has accepted her for who she is, and they become friends.

At first sight, this book looks like a simple little children’s book, used for students no older than those in first grade. However, as we read the book a couple of times and looked through the pictures, there are a lot of hidden messages that can be discussed with third or even fourth graders. The simplicity of the text holds very sophisticated, in depth thoughts of peer pressure, feelings that children and people in general go through, being accepted/fitting in, and being yourself.
How the book can be used/curriculum units:
Activity 1: “The Power of Colors”
BEFORE introducing the book, have students brainstorm and/or freewrite about anything that comes up in their minds when they think of the color black. Then have them do the same with the color pink. AFTER reading the book, discuss: Why is black considered cool? Who decides on what the “cool” color is? As a project, students can take their favorite color and create a picture with only shades of that color. In writing, they will explain their picture. (the picture can be a reflection to the book)
Activity 2: “Fitting in, Being Accepted, and Being Who You Are”
This unit can start with discussing what peer pressure is. During this discussion, have students refer back to the book, and talk about how peer pressure affected Pinkalicious emotionally. How was Pinkalicious feeling when her favorite color was being made fun of? Although no one made fun of her when she was blue, how was she feeling then? Script writing and role plays can follow this discussion.
Activity 3: “Math with the Color Purple”
Using color dye, students can explore the different shades of purple using red, blue and white. They can record the number of drops of each color that it takes to make each shade of purple. Using the pattern they find, they will continue the number pattern using predictions. This activity can be an introduction to a lesson on skip counting, or multiplication.
Social Justice Curriculum:
1. Self-Love and Acceptance: Students will love themselves for who they are. They can relate to the text by thinking about the different situations that they have been in (examples: when they were teased, when they liked something that others did not) and look to Pinkalicious as a model that it is okay to be proud of who you are and what you like.
2. Respect for Others: Pinkalicious never ridiculed the others just because they wore black or were different. She was very proud of herself until they started to pick on her. The author addresses respect for others by showing that even though they specifically demonstrated to her that pink is not a cool color, Pinkalicious still respected what others favor, even when she does not like it herself.
3. Exploring issues of Social Justice: Students will tackle and learn more about acceptance, bullying, gender roles, and being an individual who is not afraid to be different rather than conforming to the norms of society or to what others believe are "the best."
4. Social Movements and Social Change: Students can explore the text and connect with personal experiences as well as the significant actions and emotions of significant figures. They can see the struggles that others went through in order to finally accept themselves and understand that they are not the only ones who struggle, but that they are the ones that need to take a stand for what they believe in.
5. Taking Social Action: Students will focus on their own classroom on how they can develop tools to work for change. As a first step, they will choose something that they truly believe in and love and may possibly be afraid to share with others (for example, a boy might say that he likes the color pink). They will make a booklet or a video about how this affects themselves and others by showing the importance of accepting oneself, despite what others say. If this is a great concern, anonymity may be used but there should be a section where the children are described individually by gender, maybe race, physical description, etc.

Smoky Night

Mark Coccarelli
Yannery Gonzalez
Hannah Krueger

Smokey Night
By Eve Bunting

Link to where you can purchase book:http://www.amazon.com/Smoky-Night-Eve-Bunting/dp/0152018840/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1207618761&sr=8-1

Summary: In this visually stimulating and thought-provoking story, Bunting tells of the horror and chaos that occurred during the Los Angeles riots through the eyes of a confused young boy. She never directly comes out and states that racial tensions exist in the community but through her nuances and use of symbolism, she gives the reader plenty to think about. This is a story about the importance of getting along with others and not letting past differences get in the way of getting to know someone.

Reflection: Smoky Night is a story the LA riots told from the eyes of a child. At the book’s core is the idea that there commonalities between us underneath our various exteriors. With visually stimulating illustrations and collage work the story is abstractly represented with artwork that and adds emphasis to certain aspects of the story. Smoky Night offers a positive outlook on how peace can come during hardship.

Book Use/Activities/Curricular Units: The book lends itself to various curricular elements including understandings about civil rights and the LA Riots. The book can offer discussion about prejudices and judgment as well as work as a tool for community building where students an understand differences and similarities between students within the class. The book also offers as an example of realistic fiction and may be used as a model in writing. Further, the book offers various work with symbolism and finding meaning in images.

Domain of Social Justice Education:
2.) Respect for Others- Strengthens intercultural competence. In the book during the time of crisis the characters realize they’re need for one another and the importance in getting to know each other despite cultural differences.

3.) Exploring Issues of Social Justice- Racism, Classism, Sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression are confronted. The characters in the book begin to talk tone another and find similarities between each other.

4.) Social Movements and Social Change- Students learn how people have struggled for social change. The characters come out of the crisis of the LA riots and offer friendship to each other, inviting one another over to their apartments.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

This is the Dream by Diane Shore and Jessica Alexander

Presented by Yerlina, Priya, and Liav

This book can be purchased at:
Price: $12.74

From Publishers Weekly
Ransome (Satchel Paige) creates a striking juxtaposition of closely focused paintings and collage borders incorporating powerful historical photographs. These images will make a strong impression on readers of this expository chronicle of events preceding, during and following the civil rights movement, as Ransome's artwork makes large ideas comprehensible through visual details. The singsong rhythm and "House-that-Jack-Built" meter creates a chilling contrast to what's going on between the lines: "These are the buses—a dime buys a ride,/ but the people are sorted by color inside." Ransome shows the demarcation of the bus's white and black sections, and in a border across the top creates a collage of stirring portraits. Text and artwork similarly depict segrgated lunch counters, libraries and schools. One of the most powerful spreads portrays three black children stepping into a newly integrated school ("These are the students who step through the doors/ where people of color have not walked before"), Confederate flags flying, while a photocollage on the top edge shows the fractured images of angry white bystanders, effectively emulating a mob mentality. Concluding spreads demonstrate the contrast today, with images of a multiracial array of people waiting to use the same drinking fountain and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in one voice at school. This will provide a solid springboard for adult-child discussions, especially since younger readers might need help deciphering some of the poetic narrative's references. All ages.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Amistad (December 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006055519X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060555191
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces


I found THIS IS THE DREAM to be very powerful, not just through the use of the words in the verses, but through the detailed and vibrant pictures accompanying the verses. Of all, I felt the title sent an extremely strong message to me as the reader, that today, we are living in is the dream people had struggled towards. As I read each page, I felt there were strong emotions of pain, sorrow, struggle and strength being exuded through the verses and through the pictures. Although each page captured a different emotion of mine, one of the pages that really resonated with me was the portrayal of the three African American students stepping foot on a territory that was not considered theirs until recently, a school that was becoming integrated. Alongside, there were various pictures of Caucasian students, teachers, etc. angrily watching as these students were entering. This page really resonated with me because it showed change in action, it depicted strength, courage and resistance and demonstrated the results of will power.

How I would use the book/activities/ curriculum:
This book would work well on several levels. It could be tied in during Black History month and/or during Poetry month. Students could write poems reflecting on their feelings after reading THIS IS THE DREAM , but rather than sharing it with the class they would have the option of keeping it for themselves. A whole unit on change can be created, and students can explore what took place in the past, the change that occurred as history progressed forward and how change is occurring today. As we mentioned in class, students should really be aware that change is constant, and change is in our hands.

1. Have students listen to a portion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a Dream” speech. Talk about how this relates to the book. Was his dream realized? Have the students brainstorm ways that his dream could become even stronger today.
2. Civil Rights Leaders: Four civil rights leaders are pictured in the book. Have students work in groups and research how these individuals contributed to the civil rights movement. Have students look for other civil rights leaders.
3. Long Road to Equal Rights: Have students work on a time line for the civil rights movement. Give various events starting back with the constitution, abolishment of slavery, African Americans gaining the right to vote, integration of schools, etc. This will show students that equality for African Americans has been a long and challenging process.
4. Discrimination Today: Discuss the concept of discrimination. Have students list ways that people are still discriminated against today. What other groups are discriminated against?

Art- Have student use magazines, photographs and drawings to make their own collages to represent their reflections of this book.

Music-Find recordings or lyrics of these songs that were sung during the Civil Rights Movement. Have students write a brief journal about why they think the songs were important. ("Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing,"We Shall Overcome." "Oh, Freedom." "Only a Pawn in Their Game," "I'm on My Way." “How I Got Over.")

Domains of Social Justice:

Self-love and acceptance: Students learn to love and be proud of who they are and in doing so students should be encouraged to continue express themselves in a safe and positive manner. Through poetry or reflecting in their journals, asking questions, etc., students should be given the opportunity to take time and share their feelings and experiences whether it is privately or with the whole class. In THIS IS THE DREAM even though the African- Americans entered a new school which they knew they were they were not welcomed by everyone with open arms, they still maintained respect for themselves.

Respect for others: Towards the end of THIS IS THE DREAM there is an image of a group of people of various races waiting in line to use the same drinking fountain, depicting acceptance and showing the change that has occurred over the years.

Exploring issues of social justice: THIS IS THE DREAM addresses issues on racism and segregation, struggle and the power of change. It identifies the events the occurred prior to the Civil Rights Movement, during and after. More importantly, students can begin to explore the power they have to create change in the community.

Social Movements and social change: By reflecting on what has occurred, students can take a proactive approach about certain issues that might be occurring in their community (classroom, school, social community) and begin to discuss how they can create a positive change. Perhaps it would be best by beginning with something small, such as an issue that maybe occurring in the classroom (i.e. sharing). Students can learn to become aware that they are makers of change and that they have the power to change certain issues by working together and moving forwards with a positive attitude.

Related Books that could be used in addition to this could be read as an introductory lessons to Civil Rights, Rosa by Nikki Giovanni and excerpts from Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue with Today's Youth by Rosa Parks, The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan

Additional Websites:
(1) 50 Years Later: Brown v. Board of Education
Commemorate the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling with free online resources.

(2) National Rights Museum
Allows the student to interact with activities, see photographs of famous people and see exhibits about the Civil Rights movement. This site introduces students to people who have fought and dedicated their lives for freedom.

(3) Factbites/Civil Rights Act 1865

(4) The Civil Rights Movement, A Photographic History, 1954-1968 www.abbeville.com/civilrights/index.asp

(5) Timeline of the Civil Rights Movement

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Skin You Live In ~ Posted by Camille, Diane, Laura, & Marissa

Summary: The Skin You Live In written by Michael Tyler and illustrated by David Lee Csicsko was the debut publication of the Chicago Children’s Museum 2005 and is an important story for every child to read. Through a lively yet simplistic nursery rhyme style, this text delivers the vital message of social acceptance to its readers. Throughout the text various children with different colored skin talk about all of the wonderful things that they can do in their beautiful skin. In talking about their skin the voices heard in this text utilize simplistic language to tackle some major themes of child development such as self-acceptance, diversity, self-esteem, friendship, and social justice issues. In addition, this text displays children of various skin colors participating in and enjoying the same activities thus demonstrating the idea that even though these children may look different, they are in fact very much the same. Finally, the powerful words in this text talk about what skin is and what it is not therefore conveying the fact that having a certain skin color does not and can not make you “smart” or “dumb,” “tall” or “short,” or “rich” or poor.”

Reflections: The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler is an incredibly energetic story filled with vivid illustrations and relevant issues regarding today’s youth. We all loved reading this book and with the turning of each page we were more and more excited to hear the fun yet informative rhymes that lied ahead. Based on our excitement, we are confident that students will also be engaged and entranced by this powerful text. While this book may seem like a fun and simple read to some, to us, this text is filled with issues of social justice revolving around race, adoption, and being biracial or multiracial. After we read the story aloud we discussed how this text teaches children about all of the different skin tones that there are in a non-threatening way by comparing them to different ice cream flavors and talking about how different people in the same family can have different skin colors as well as how what each child does in their individual skin makes their skin and them significant. In addition, we found that this story taught students different ways in which they could accept and embrace their own skin color and the skin colors of others due to the wonderful things that we, as humans, do in our skin every day.

How I would use this book/curricular units: This text would be wonderful to utilize in the classroom when introducing the students to issues relating to race, the many ways people are alike and different (depending on the grade level), and in working on descriptions of self. While this story does not introduce the term race or racism, it does portray many different people of different races and could easily be the starting point for a discussion of what race is and is not. The students could look at where the people of each race come from geographically and how these locations have effected the color of their skin by talking about the role of melanin in determining skin color. In addition, this text can be used to talk about how people look different from the outside and that even though the most obvious body part, the skin, may be different from person to person that the color of a persons skin does not change what is on the inside and students can study the body to see that humans are all composed of the same organs, muscles, and bones. Finally, this story would be great to read when working on a unit in which students need to describe themselves. After reading this text students will recognize that their skin color is significant and all their own. They can write about the color of their skin, what it makes them think of or how it makes them feel, and create art projects in which they mix paint colors until they have created their own personal skin color and use that color to paint a self-portrait that they can hang in the classroom along with a description of who they are, where they come from, and why they are proud to have the skin that they are in.

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 children featured throughout the colorful illustrations as well as different activities described in the text that children do in their wonderful skin. In being able to relate to the words and images of the text, reading this story will foster a sense of acceptance not only for the students themselves and where they come from, but of other students and their origins as well. 2) Respect for Others: Students will learn to investigate other people and cultures and appreciate them for what they are by looking at the different skin tones of people from different cultures, talking about where these people are from in the world, and how the places in which they live effect the color of their skin tone. In concordance with this they will obtain a deeper understanding of skin color and respect and accept all people regardless of the color of their skin for who they are and where they come from. 3) Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students will discuss and learn more about racism, adoption, and being biracial or multiracial 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 like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did during the Civil Rights Movement when he worked hard to ban segregation, or separating people because of the color of their skin, in public establishments. In addition, they can connect these worldly issues, social movements, and social change to their own classroom and create ways in which they can combat similar issues that they see occurring in their classroom. 5) Taking Social Action: Students will learn how to take action and create social change on their own by looking at issues in the text, relating those issues to others that they see in the classroom, learning about how issues like these were and still are handled on the public scale, and utilize all that they have learned to synthesize and implement a plan for social change in their own classroom community.

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Suki's Kimono

Group: Krista, Maria & Kristen
Book: Suki's Kimono by Chieri Uegaki Illustrated by Stephane Jorisch

Suki's Kimono is the story about a little girl who receives a kimono from her grandmother over the summer and attends a special cultural festival. She loves the kimono so much that she decides to wear it on her first day of school. Her sisters try and talk her out of wearing it telling her that she should try to wear something "cooler" and "newer", but Suki is not persuaded. When Suki gets to school she gets laughed at and teased for being different. In class when asked what she did over the summer she retails how her grandmother gave her the kimono and their adventure at the cultural festival, she then begins to dance as if she was at the festival. When she is finished everyone applauds her.

Suki's Kimono is a great book for showing the importance of treasured possessions and how they can be shared effectively with others. Suki loves her kimono and wears it to school with pride. The author, Uegaki, does a fine job of showing Suki's spirit and respect for her grandmother.

Reflection: This is a great book to use in the classroom because it shows the importance of being different. Suki has great spirit in the book, despite the fact that she is getting laughed at she continues to be herself even though its differs from her peers. This is an important concept for children to come to terms with, especially in school in which peer pressure and conformity are major issues.

How the book can be used/curriculum units:

This is a book that can be integrated into a social studies curriculum such as immigration. It is a good book to use in the classroom especially considering the number of students who immigrate from other countries. The book depicts how a person could maintain their culture in society that promotes conformity.
First Activity: Students will work in small groups and can pick a member from the community who has immigrated to the U.S. They will interview them about the struggles they have faced in maintaing their culture and resisting conformity.
Second Activity: Writing Workshop-- Students research and pick a cultural object that means a lot to the. They can write about why it is important and how it relates to their culture.

Domains of Social Justice:

1. Self-love and Respect: The students will discuss how Suki, had a great deal of confidence in being different and representing who she is culturally. Students can identify objects they love that represent their culture.

2. Respect for Others: Students will learn about Suki's culture which will foster respect for Suki's culture. We learn through this book the importance to respect others and their cultures, especially if they are different from our own.

3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: This book can open up a discussion on assimilation and how when immigrants come to this country they are expected to totally embrace our culture rather then maintaing their own. Students can talk about why its important to maintain your culture. This is an especially pertinent topic considering the different people that compose our NYC classrooms.

4. Social Movements and Social Change: Students will learn about the historical struggles immigrants faced in maintaining their culture, and how this struggle can still be seen today in education (i.e. No Child Left Behind).

5. Taking Social Action: Students can write letters to Suki's sister's explaining why it is important for them to take pride in their culture and the negative effects to a conformed society.

One Hen

Group: Susanna, Jasmine, and Elyse

One Hen
Written by Katie Smith
Illustrated by Eugene Fernandes

Link to where you can buy the book:


Inspired by true events, One Hen tells the story of Kojo, a boy from Ghana who turns a small loan into a thriving farm and a livelihood for many. After his father died, Kojo had to quit school to help his mother collect firewood to sell at the market. When his mother receives a loan from some village families, she gives a little money to her son. With this tiny loan, Kojo buys a hen. A year later, Kojo has built up a flock of 25 hens. With his earnings Kojo is able to return to school. Soon Kojo's farm grows to become the largest in the region. Kojo's story is inspired by the life of Kwabena Darko, who as a boy started a tiny poultry farm just like Kojo's, which later grew to be the largest in east Africa. Kwabena also started a trust that gives out small loans to people who cannot get a loan from a bank.

One Hen shows what happens when a little help makes a big difference. This help comes in the form of a microloan, a lending system for people in developing countries who have no collateral and no access to conventional banking. Microloans have begun to receive more media attention in recent years. In 2006 Muhammad Yunus, a Bangledeshi economist who pioneered microloan banking, won the Nobel Peace Prize.The final pages of One Hen explain the microloan system and include a list of relevant organizations for children to explore.

Reflection: This is a great book to use in the classroom because it shows something that appears to be small can make a big difference, such as the loan to buy one hen. This book depicts the fact that one person can cause a change is he or she works hard enough. If people work together, they can help this individual bring about this change. Rich illustrations accompany the text as the theme of the book shows that change is possible, and it starts with just one person.

How the book can be used/curriculum units:

First Activity: Students will work in groups to research an organization
and write a proposal to the school for why they should support the
organization. They will present he proposal to the school, asking
them to vote on which program they would like to be involved with.
After choosing an organization, the students will create a plan to get
the school and wider community involved in their cause. They will
write letters to small businesses asking for donations, fundraise, and
set up food, clothing or school supply drives depending on their

Second Activity: Writing Workshop-- Students pick a change they would like to bring about and write about this in their writer's notebooks. They write about the first thing they should do, as the one who starts this change.

Third Activity: Teacher can hand out a "small loan" to all the students. For example, she can hand out a box of markers to each student. In 2 weeks, we can what we did with those markers and if we made any difference with the markers. Discuss the similiarities and differences between what we did and what happened in the story.

Websites: http://www.onehen.org/

Grades 3-5
Domains of Social Justice:
1. Self-love and Respect: The students will discuss how Kojo, a young
boy had a great deal of confidence and determination to help out his
family and village, and make a change in the world. Students of
African background may coke connections to the conditions in the book
and express love and respect for their culture. Students will learn
about their responsibilities in their families and how they are
important to their own families and communities as well.

2. Respect for Others: From learning about a different culture and
comparing and contrasting their responsibilities and structure of the
community, students will respect Kojo's culture and Ashanti region of
Ghana. They will learn about the different circumstances and
hardships of Kojo's community, but also how rich in culture and values
their community is, and how they all took initiative to make a change.

3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students will learn about the
disparity of wealth from one country to another. Many countries in
Africa have had to endure many years of injustice, specifically, the
Ashanti region dominated by the British. Students will discuss the
history of Ghana, focusing in on the country and what hardships they
had to endure over the years, including colonization, political
strife, unfair trading. They will explore how other countries are
affected by modern industrialization and unfair trading.

4. Social Movements and Social Change: Students will learn about how
the people of Ghana took initiative to create an independent
government and make efforts to stabilize the economy. They will
discuss the steps people took to try and establish fair trade and
develop bank and loan systems to help small villages. They will learn
how people and organizations and are working to make larger changes in
political and economic systems.

5. Taking Social Action: They will earn about different organizations
(especially those included in the book) that help create positive
change in Ghana and other countries such as the Philippines, Uganda
and Peru by providing money for loans and outreach organizations to
help build schools and recruit teachers. Students will choose an
organization to become involved with, writing letters to local
businesses to fundraise for a loan, and also set up a relationship
with a school in Ghana to help provide school supplies, clothes and


Title: Iqbal
Author: Francesco D'Adamo
Grades: 4 and up

Summary: Through the eyes of Iqbal's fictional coworker (Fatima), D'Adamo retells the true story of Iqbal Masih. Iqbal, a 13-year-old boy from Pakistan, is originally sold into servitude. This story takes place in a carpet factory where children work all day in hopes of paying off family debt. When Iqbal arrives, he quickly points out to the others that no matter how much they work, their debt will never be paid off. Iqbal is determined to raise the spirit of the children by teaching them to believe eventually they will be free. One day Iqbal escapes and makes contact with the Bonded Labor Liberation Front. With the help of the BLLF and together with his coworkers, Iqbal exposes the corruption within the country and works to free other children sold into servitude.

Reflections: After reading this book, all three of us were brought to tears. This story of a young boy inspiring other children and people around the world to fight against the injustices and harm being brought upon the working children of Pakistan is quite powerful. Though told from the perspective of a fictional character, Iqbal was a real boy which makes his story all the more inspirational. We felt truly affected and changed by learning about Iqbal's story. We feel that illuminating others to issues around child labor as well as reading a story with Middle Eastern characters (which are not often found in classroom literature) would be a valuable as well as effective piece of classroom literature.

How to use this book in the curriculum:
- works well as a Read Aloud
- could be used as a novel for a unit on child labor, children's/human rights, capitalism, and/or fair trade
- looking at modern day heroes and/or children who are heroes
- historical fiction unit
- great book for a classroom library
- literature circles
- writing letters, persuasive/informative essays, etc.

Domains of Social Justice:
Self-love and Acceptance: Children begin this story being treated like dirt. By the end, these same children learn that they are valuable and begin using their voices to express that to all enslaved children.
Respect for Others: This story glimpses into the lives of enslaved children from Pakistan. By reading "Iqbal" students will have a better understanding of what an enslaved child laborer must go through on an everyday basis.
Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Classism and ageism are definitely confronted in "Iqbal." Poor children are forced into a life of enslavement, treated like animals, and manipulated for their illiteracy. They are oppressed for the benefit of their oppressor. This is one boy's story of how he stood up for himself and all of the other children.
Social Movements and Social Change: Iqbal is based on a true story. Iqbal was a child who wanted to change his situation and make it better for everyone. He aligned himself with an organization that uncovered hidden child labor camps. He was very brave.

to purchase "Iqbal": http://www.amazon.com/Iqbal-Novel-Francesco-DAdamo/dp/0689854455

website made by middle school class about Iqbal:

Blogged by:
Cassandra Lyhus, Alissa Levy, Celeste Mason

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Name Jar

Group: Jocelyn Chung, Emma Klauber,  Jina Kim
: "The Name Jar"
Author: Yangsook Choi
Summary: This book is about a young girl that leaves her home in Korea. As she leaves her grandmother, her grandmother gives her a name stamp with her name in Korean. She comes to America and her first interaction with other children isn't a good one. All of the students have trouble saying her name and start making fun of her name. She decides that she wants to give herself an american name. On her first day of school she tells the class that she hasn't picked a name yet so the class starts a name jar. The jar is filled with names that the other children in the class have suggested.  She reads many of the names but hasn't picked one yet.  During this time, she meets a friend that takes much interest in her name.  This friend and the girl meet at a Korean supermarket and the owner of the market says her name, Unhei.  The boy finds out her name and wants her to keep her name. The next day of school he takes the name jar and no one can find it.  When she goes home this friend comes to Unhei's house and gives her the name jar and tells her that she should keep her name and also shows her something really special, his very own name stamp.   
Reflection: I really enjoyed this book, especially because it was about a little Korean girl.  I could relate to the little girl in many ways.  I believe that this shows other students the perspective of this little Korean girl.  It will help other students understand how Unhei felt and could even teach other students what acceptance is of others and themselves.  
How would I use this book in the classroom: There are so many ways that this book could be used in the classroom.  This could be used to teach students tolerance and acceptance of others.  The teacher could read aloud this book and then she could have the students make their own name stamps and do research about what their name means.  Students could write their name in their language as well.  Doing these different things will help the students learn about their peers and be tolerant of them.  This would be a good way to build community in the classroom.  
Domains of Social Justice: 
1. Self-love and acceptance: This book talks all about self-love and acceptance. Unhei had to except her korean name and her identity.  Hopefully this will help other students to do the same and accept themselves for who they are.  
2. Respect for Others: This book will teach the students about other cultures. Some of the students in the book are also good examples of how they were accepting of Unhei and how they showed respect to her.  This could be a topic that could be discussed with your students.   
3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: After reading this book, the students can move on and talk about different social issues going on in the world that deal with tolerance of other cultures and acceptance and respect of different people.  The students can do research about different things going on in the world and discuss what things that they could do.    
4. Social Movements and Social Change: The students can start taking action by being tolerant of other students and making a difference through their actions.  They can tell other people about what they learned and if they see intolerance happening in their schools they could try to do something about it.