Wednesday, February 25, 2009


(please click on either link above for more information about the book or author!)

Summary: This book is a really great selection for a 4th or 5th grade group of students. The protagonist Cap Anderson moves from a rural town where he is home schooled to a public middle school in a suburban town. Cap is very different from the rest of his peers, he has never watched TV, eaten pizza, any doesn't know anything about sports. The other students at the school make fun of Cap for his unique ways, particularly his Buddist religion, his hemp clothing and especially how he practices tai chi on the schools lawn. As the year goes by, the students start to appreciate Cap for his uniqueness and their opinions of him drastically change.

Annmarie's Reflection: Schooled is a really great story because of the way that it encourages people to accept other's for their differences and unique talents. Many children can relate to this in an urban environment because of the different cultures, religions,
and lifestyles they all live.

Mila: This addresses several dimensions of social justice education. It addresses Social Justice domain 1, Self Love and Acceptance, because Cap is forced to accept himself for who he is. He may not be exactly like everyone else, but he is pretty special, and has a lot to offer. This also addresses Social Justice domain 2, Respect for Others. In the beginning of the story, Cap's peers think he is strange and don't want to be friends with him. However, throughout the story they begin to appreciate him for who he is and how unique of an individual he is.
Mila's Reflection: I liked this story because it was such an unusual story. Growing up in a very cookie cutter suburb, I never knew anyone like Cap. I think it would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall in this situation. I also thought that Cap handled his situation really well. I would definitely read this book with my class.

Lexie's Reflection: I love how different the premise of this story is from other books. It deals with a unique culture-- that of individuals who practice Zen Buddhism and Tai Chi, and live on a commune. This "hippy" culture is not often explored in children's literature, and it is interesting to see a main character with this background. When Cap- who has been homeschooled for many years- is placed in a typical school, it is the common story of an outcast. Only this time, the outcast is placed immediately in a position of power- that of class President. Korman's choice to set the plot up this way was different and intriguing. The story that unfolds is touching- I definitely recommend this book!

For purchasing options, please click here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Black Book of Colors

The Black Book of Colors (Emily, Julia, and Jen)
By: Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria

Summary: This is a picture book about colors, but it is all black. It gives insight into how blind people “see” colors. For those of us who know what colors look like, it is so difficult to imagine how blind people see them in their minds. This book describes colors through the four other senses we often take for granted; touch, taste, smell and hearing. The words are written in white and accompanied by Braille. The opposite page depicts the description. The black line drawings are raised in different ways so that the illustrations can be felt. This book gives an idea of what it is like for the blind population on a daily basis. The Braille alphabet is also at the end of the book.

How it could be used: You could use the book to teach how there's many ways to enjoy and experience the world, the five senses and the symbolism of color. In the classroom, I would read the book to the students and have them explore what the pages feel like. I would discuss with them how, when you cannot see something, you can still enjoy and experience it because you can feel it, hear it...I would then discuss the five senses and the way each color was described in the book. I would then have the students think of what each color feels like, sounds them personally, and then have them write poems for each color using the sensory descriptions they came up with.

Domains of Social Justice:
Self Love and Acceptance: Children Learn about their own culture. The book explores color an unconventional way. Since experiencing color affects almost everybody, this exploration helps show the significance of using our other senses to explain something that is traditionally perceived by only one of our senses.
Respect for Others: Strengthens intercultural competence. Because this book focuses on giving an explanation of something we normally visually perceive without giving us the visuals to see it, The Black Book of Colors helps us understand what it may feel like to be blind. It makes the reader aware of the difficulties of explaining something when you cannot see it, but also of the benefits of experiencing something, such as color, in a different way. Also, students are exposed to Braille, the alphabet and reading system that the Blind use.
Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Racism, classism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression are confronted. People do not often think that blind people would fall into a social injustice because being blind does not have anything to do with race or beliefs, but people do not realize that Blind people are oppressed in ways that we take for granted. This is a picture book with illustrations in black and white, something that normally does not appeal to children who like to be visually stimulated. Most books out there, especially for children, rely on illustrations to strengthen its meaning. The Black Book of Colors itself confronts the idea that something as simple as colors should not be excluded from a Blind person’s experience.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Freedom Trip

My Freedom Trip: A Child's Escape from North Korea
by Francis Park and Ginger Park
(Nathalie, Aminah, and April)

Summary: This book is about a young girl's journey to freedom in South Korea. Young Soo, a little girl living in North Korea, begins to realize that one by one her friends are missing from school. She discovers that they have made freedom trips to South Korea to escape the unjust limitations on their once enjoyed freedom. Soon Soo's family makes arrangements to escape with the help of a family friend. Her father goes first, leaving Soo and her mother behind. Next, despite a terrifying encounter, Soo successfully makes the trip to the freedom land. Her mother faces no such luck. Security tightens along the border and Soo's mother never gets to join her and her father in the freedom land-- South Korea.

Reflection: We love the illustrations in this book! My Freedom Trip is filled with beautiful brushstrokes and colors which effectively set the tone for each page. We also enjoyed being able to explore a little bit of Korean culture--learning different Korean words, characters, and games. Furthermore, we liked this book because it is a real account of someones struggle and journey to freedom. Although very sad at times, this book is real and ends in a bittersweet way.

Use: This book can be a great resource if doing a study on Korea or the conflict between the two hemispheres of Korea in Social Studies. It goes beyond mere fact and enters into a personal story. Other historical events like the Korean War can also be introduced. We also thought this book could be used in a writing lesson. The main character uses very descriptive language to describe the setting and a lesson on using such language can be beneficial to student writing. Additionally, this book can be part of a study on personal narratives and help students write their own real-life story.


Domains of Social Justice

1. Self-love and Acceptance: Korean students can learn about "who they are" and "where they come from" through this book. The beauty of Korean landscape as well as a few aspects of Korean culture are highlighted.

2. Respect for Others: Exploring Korean culture (games, words, characters, etc).

3. Exploring Issues of Social Injustice: Touching upon the injustice experienced by those living in North Korea.

5. Taking Social Action: The notion of fighting for you freedom, leaving the place you call home to attain it, is extremely powerful. While the book only talks about this one family, this could definitely be viewed on a wider scale, and the book can help initiate such conservation.

The Color of My Words By Lynn Joseph

Summary: Ana Rosa, a twelve-year-old girl, tells her coming of age story, through her passion, words.  In Dominican Republic, writers are never allowed to express themselves freely and Ana Rosa's family knows the struggles that she will have to face and suppress her talent.  One day, this all changes and Ana Rosa is able to help her community and is granted the greatest gift she could ever receive, a notebook of her own.  Unfortunately, she shuts herself down after witnessing the murder of her greatest hero and supporter, her brother.  Read this book and experience the ups and downs of this world from a Gri Gri tree.

Reflection: This book is ideal for fourth-graders.  Our group was moved by Ana Rosa's inspirational story of how she had to overcome such difficulties.  This book allows children from all cultures connect to the main character.  We believed that it can be used to inspire discussions on Hispanic culture, poetry, death and activism.  It can also lead to discussions on the different roles Ana Rosa's family members had, which is very important in this book.  We enjoyed it and hope that your future students will too.

Link: http:/

Social Justice Education:

Self-Love and Acceptance -  We would allow students to learn about Hispanic music, beginning with merengue, because it is heard throughout the book and plays a very important role in not only Domican culture but especially in Ana Rosa's life.  We would want students to gain a respect for cultures other than their own.

Exploring Issues of Solution - As Americans, it is easy for us to take things for granted.  We rarely think that doing laundry would be such a tedious task that would take the whole day; however, for Ana Rosa and her mother it does.  We would want to make students aware of what they have and understand how classism affects Dominicans.

Taking Social Action - Guario, the hero of this book, dies a tragic death defending his communities rights.  We would want to show students that activism does not equal violence and find non-violent solutions that do not resort to death.  We would also want to show the role that media has on activism and how it can help or hinder a cause.  

Link to buy Locomotion

You can buy this book at


Summary: Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson is about a young boy who is growing up in foster care. The story is told through a book of poems. Lonnie, also known as Locomotion, expresses his experiences in school, with his foster mom, his sister, and memories of his parents in all different forms of poems. The story deals with deep issues regarding race, social class, and war. 

Reflection/ Activities: Our group felt that this book would be a great resource for the classroom. The story deals with so many deep issues through the eyes of a child. We thought that students would be able to connect to the reading easily, which would help to lead to activities in the classroom. This book could be used for literacy lessons on different forms of poetry. The book also leads to a great discussion on different family types. It would also be good for discussing writing as a form of expression, which could also lead to a deeper discussion of how you can use writing for change. 

Domains of Social Justice:
Self Love and Acceptance: Lonnie is very proud of his family and background. Through his poetry and writing we see that Lonnie appreciates where he comes from and is not ashamed of who he is. 

Respect for Others: Lonnie shows respect for others through his relationship with Edna and his friends at school. He also shows respect through his relationship with his sister whose foster parents disapprove of him since he is a black boy.

Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Locomotion explores racism through Lonnie's experience at school and through his relationship with his sister's foster parents.

All for the Better: A Story of El Barrio

All for the Better: A Story of El Barrio
by Nicholasa Mohr


Group Members: Angelica Conway, Christina Kirsch, Sarah North

This book tells the story of a little girl named Evelina, who is born in Puerto Rico during the Great Depression. Her mother sends her by herself to the US, where she goes to live with her aunt and uncle in El Barrio in Manhattan. It takes a little while, but she soon learns English and fits in at school, making a close friend named Sarah. A few black girls at school bully and tease her, but Evelina learns not to use violence and is able to stand up to them, and the girls soon become friends. Because of the depression, many of the families in El Barrio are on welfare and are entitled to collect food, but many are too embarrassed to go get it. Evelina arranges a way to get the food herself and deliver it to the needy families. She begins to encourage them to start going themselves, pointing out it is ok to accept help. Evelina has saved up many she has made translating for people in the neighborhood who speak only Spanish, and soon her mother and sisters are able to come live in New York too. As an adult, Evelina continues her activism and becomes involved in improving the education system.

The book can be used during a unit on immigration. Students will have the chance to discuss Evelina's journey and what feelings she had before, during, and after the trip to America. Students can write their own story about coming to America (either real or fictional) and document what it would be like for someone their age to come to the U.S. alone. Students can role play different parts of Evelina's experience and discuss them afterward. This book can also be used when discussing the Great Depression and the hardships people faced at the time. It introduces a culture's experience that is rarely portrayed in books. The book also includes multiple Spanish phrases and words which gives the reader a glimpse into Evelina's home culture and having to deal with making sense out of a new life. This could be something relatable for some students. The book also opens the door to talk about the hardships faced within families and familial relationships. At the beginning of the 1st cha
pter it says the mother had to make the hard decision to send Evelina and then she had to deal with leaving her family and missing her siblings grow up. Students can discuss"What's the definition of 'home'?" and  "What does that look/feel like to different people?"

Social Justice Education

1.     Self-Love and Acceptance: The main character, Evelina, is faced with racism and prejudice from a bully and the bully’s friend but she is able to stand up against it eventually. She does this because she recognizes the importance in speaking up and being proud of your heritage.

2.     Respect for Others: Evelina makes a best friend in Sarah and they work together to learn each other’s cultures—Sarah is particularly good about this because she helps Evelina learn English. Evelina’s aunt also explains to Evelina that there is a connection between the other people in her community even if it feels like they are very different. Evelina eventually even became friends with the bully and the bully’s friend.

3.     Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Racism is faced, particularly in the scene with the bully. In this scene the bully picks on Evelina and calls her a “spick girl,” therefore making use of derogatory language. Classism is also certainly addressed rather evidently. Evelina begins to help her neighbors who are poor and unwilling to claim their government-sponsored food. It is indirectly stated that low socioeconomic status means people cannot care for themselves and do not have food to put on their tables.

4.     Social Movements and Social Change: The poor people in the community did not want to be perceived as beggars so they have a hard time breaking through the barrier towards social change. Evelina wants to help them change and get food for the poor but it takes some convincing on her part in order to get them to agree.

5.     Taking Social Action: Evelina went to her neighbors’ doors and had them fill out the paperwork to receive their food and then she offered to go uptown to pick it all up that day. She recruited people to help her and was eventually able to motivate her neighbors to take care of themselves and gave them the skills they need to be self-sufficient. Evelina also worked to save money for her aunt and uncle who were having a difficult time making ends meet during the Depression. 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Blind Hunter by Kristina Rodanas

Book Club Members: Katrina Tattoli, Sara Sepulveda, and Annmarie Forde

Book: The Blind Hunter by Kristina Rodanas


Summary: In the story, a blind man goes hunting with a traveler. The traveler asks him many questions, marveling at his ability to use other senses than sight to keep the couple out of danger. When they set traps and catch two quails, the traveler tries to take advantage of the man’s blindness by giving him the smaller one and telling him it’s the biggest. The blind man knows it’s a trick, and tells the traveler. In the end, they become friends and learn a lesson about morality.

How to use this book: I would use this book to teach awareness about disabilities, especially since in the beginning, the blind man is tending to his plentiful garden, something impressive for anyone despite ability level. It can also be used to discuss Africa, African folk tales, and adaptations, given that it is adapted from am African folk tale. It could be used to teach sharing, to talk about pictures matching words (they match perfectly in this book), to show community/friendship, and to teach about stealing.

Stages of Social Justice Education:

Self-love and acceptance- It can be used in a culture study unit, and students can learn to appreciate African culture if it is their own. It can also be used in a folktale unit with various folktales from the students’ own backgrounds.

Respect for others- Students can learn to respect people with disabilities and see them as able, functioning individuals. Students can do a character comparison between the traveler and the blind man, and see that both of them were valuable, and in this story, the blind man even more so.

Exploring issues of Social Justice- Students can use this book as a springboard for looking at perceptions of people with disabilities. We can use this book in comparison with others that only feature people with disabilities as peripheral characters, or only display characters in wheelchairs. They can look at the new MTV Show “How’s Your News?” and talk about how people react to interviews with people with disabilities.

Social Movements & Social Change- Students can learn about different social action organizations that exist in New York City and throughout the world, including Camp Jabberwocky, an outdoors summer camp for children with disabilities and the Special Olympics. This can help them understand that charities run by able-bodied individuals are not the only thing available to people with disabilities, and that there are many organizations run by people with disabilities trying to affect change. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1996 can also be discussed here.

Taking Social Action- Students can do a classroom library investigation and look at the way people with disabilities are portrayed in classroom books. This can be extended to the school library. Students can write letters, organize petitions, and raise awareness of stereotypes about disabilities that are being perpetrated in which texts. The students can also check if the local libraries or book stores have them, and can write a letter or send the petition to the owners/library director as well.

Friday, February 20, 2009

How My Parents Learned to Eat

Summary How My Parents Learned to Eat
By: Ira R. Friedman

Everyone uses different utensils when eating different kinds of food – spoons are used to drink soup, forks are used to pick up food, and even hands are used to eat! How My Parents Learned to Eat illustrates a story, narrated by a young girl, about a Japanese woman named Aiko and an American sailor named John who express a fear of dinner dates. Aiko is unfamiliar with using knives and forks as John is with using chopsticks. Fostering similar concerns, the couple secretly tries to learn each other’s tradition of eating, practicing with mashed potatoes and peas and sukiyaki. Eventually, Aiko and John agree to help one another learn and become familiar with each other’s traditions. Ira R. Friedman places great, positive emphasis on the ways in which diverse cultures affect people by broadening their knowledge.

How the book would be used in the classroom.

The book How My Parents Learned to Eat can be used in a variety of ways inside the classroom, particularly in a unit on family. The story of Aiko and John can be used to explore the uniqueness of each family – cultures, traditions, and ways of life. This book can be used to illustrate that each family is different in a positive light. Lessons may also be implemented focusing on different kinds of family structures as the young girl comes from a biracial family.

Domains of Social Justice Education

♦ Self Love and Acceptance: Students will learn about their family, their own culture and their own community. In this story, the mom and dad came from two different cultures, and then formed a bi-racial family. Students should learn to feel proud of their own family, culture and community.

♦ Respect for Others: Students will learn that we all come from different culture and family, and the differences between each culture and family are what make our world beautiful and unique. In the story, mom and dad were willing to learn about each other’s culture and tradition, so they were able to communicate and enjoy the difference between two cultures. The narrator in this story is a bi-racial girl, so teacher can also help students to learn about and respect different types of family.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
Summary: This story chronicles the struggle of a family to stay together in tumultuous Afghanistan. The story is told from the point of view of Parvana, the middle child of the family. Parvana sees war rip apart the fabric of her family and has to take on new responsibilities in this uncertain time. Growing up all too fast, Parvana quickly learns how harsh the world can be, but also manages to see the glimmers of beauty amidst the rubble of modern day Kabul.
Reflection: I, along with my group, absolutely loved reading this book. I found myself immediately swept up in this story and relating to Parvana in ways that frightened me. She was pulled out of her sixth grade classroom right around the time we were taking our time in sixth grade for granted. The sharp contrast between the life she leads and the life we lead was striking to see. I also found that I learned a lot about what is currently happening in Afghanistan. The brutal regulations that the Taliban put on the people of Afghanistan, in particular the women, are unbelievable. I found myself trying to reconcile my lifestyle with that of the people of Afghanistan. It was a real eye-opening novel.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Esperanza Rising

Esperanza RisingEsperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Summary: (See Kristin's comment)

Reflection: (See Kristin's comment)

How I would use this in the classroom:
This book could be taken in so many different directions. There are so many different issues that are thoroughly touched upon in this book: immigration, racism, sexism, classism, even ageism. Students could be challenged to look at the different issues of social issues in this book, choose one that speaks to them, then do a "study" of that social issue - how have they/others been affected by this issue, why, where, etc. It's also perfect for book groups. You could even group kids by the different social issues that they are interested in (one group could focus on the immigration aspect, one could focus on sexism, etc.) Pam Munoz Ryan is a wonderful author and it would be great to do an author study of her (I think Hannah is doing that in her class pretty soon). 

Domains of Social Justice:
Self-Love and Acceptance: Esperanza and her family clearly have a deep appreciation for their culture and it comes through very vividly in the book.
Respect for Others: Esperanza is always learning about this throughout the book, so it is easy to make parallels.
Exploring Issues of Social Justice: This book deals with TONS of issues (immigration, racism, sexism, ageism, classism).
Social Movements and Social Change: This book is partly based on a true story. Esperanza and her family experience social change by moving to the U.S. There are lots of issues around immigration and social change touched upon in this book.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Different Just Like Me

Different Just Like Me
by Lori Mitchell

Summary: A young girl named April experiences living in a diverse society. She is looking forward to visiting her grandmother at the end of the week. On each day that passes, April notices something new about the people in her community. Even though all the people she observes are different in their own ways, April always finds a common similarity. She sees deaf children communicating, people of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds shopping for food, a blind woman taking an elevator, adults with common interests, a woman with physical disabilities, and notices the variety of stores and landscapes in her environment. The story explores the world we live in and how we all cohabitate peacefully with one another.

Reflection: Before discussing community, I think it's important to begin with awareness about the different types of people who are around them. It can often be overlooked and once noticed, there are a multitude of observations that students can make. This book is a great way to introduce the differences that make us all individuals but create a unified society of peace and cooperation.

How would I use this in a classroom: This book is a wonderful way to introduce the idea of living in a community and creating awareness about the different types of people who exist. This book can be used with younger grades because the illustrations are very vivid and clearly show what the idea of the story is trying to convey. Students can then write their own stories about the communities that they live in and brainstorm about the different types of people they notice around them. It is a great way to show through written language and illustrations about community, diversity and to celebrate cultural and individual differences.

Domains of Social Justice:
1) Self Love and Acceptance: Children learn about their own culture. Children learn about the culture of their own community. Diversity is celebrated and emphasized by simply noticing and appreciating all the different types of people who coexist.
2) Respect for Others: Strengthens intercultural competence. April points out the differences of each individual she meets but is able to find common ground of similarities. Differences should not be the basis of judgment but rather appreciation. April admires the variety of abilities that others have.

Additional Links:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand

Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand by Liz and Jay Scott, with help from Alex Scott 
For more information on Alex's amazing journey: (This website also has lesson plans!)

Summary: This is a true story of a girl named Alex who, at a very young age, is diagnosed with cancer.  Once diagnosed, she becomes determined to help herself and others facing the same problem as she. And so, she decides to have a lemonade stand and give the money to her hospital in order that a cure might be found. Her story traveled throughout the States and her once little lemonade stand has become a Foundation for Childhood Cancer. 
How I would use this in the classroom: Although this book does not directly involve the  typical issues of social justice education (e.g. racism, sexism etc.), I find this book to be a great motivation for children of all ages. In reading about a very young girl taking a stand for an issue that directly affected her life and the lives of many others, students can see that they too can make a difference.
Domains of Social Justice:
  • Social Movements and Social Change: Alex worked extremely hard to raise money to help children with cancer. And, it was her determination that she was able to accomplish so much at such a  young age. 
  • Taking Social Action: Students can look at their own lives, just as Alex did, to see what specifically needs change and then plan their own "lemonade stand" initiative.  

Mississippi Bridge

Mississippi Bridge
By: Mildred D. Taylor
Summary: This story takes place in Mississippi in the 1930's. The Logans see their grandmother off on a trip as she travels with Josias because he has a new job. Because they are Black, they are told to get off the bus when there is not enough room on the bus because more white passengers board. After they get off, the bus crashes off the bridge into the water and they help the people in the water.
How i would use this in the classroom: I would use this book to teach younger elementary school children about Jim Crow. It describes how a family and a culure stuck together. it describes the conditions of segregation. At the end of the book, even though Josias and the grandmother were thrown off the bus, they went back and helped the same passengers and driver who were mean to them. It's a great book to use for character study because there are different types of characters and roles in the book.
Domains of Social Justice:
1. self love and acceptance: The Logan family is very close and the grandmother is the rock of the family, she teaches them pride.
2. respect for others: even though there is such a division, josias saves some people from the bus accident especially a white mother and daughter they know from the town.
3. exploring issues of social justice: The book heavily deals with racism and segregation. it shows white priority and how certain people deal with it differently.
4. social movements and social change: this book can be used to connect the ideas of the incident with Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement.
5. taking social action:

Don't Hold Me Back

Don’t Hold Me Back
My Life and Art by: Winfred Rembert

Summary/Reflection: This is the true story of Winfred Rembert, a black man who grew up in Georgia in the 1950’s. Passed from his mother to his great aunt, he lived on a plantation and was forced to work. He talks about a corner on the street where every Saturday you could see any “colored folk” you wished to get in touch with. He made friends here, and grew accustomed to visiting the same shops weekly. Winfred began to make his own toys, so original that the other children would buy toys from the toy shop to trade Winfred for his hand-made toys. As a teenager, he began to get very angry about how black people were being treated. Though his great aunt begged him not to, he joined the civil rights movement. He was arrested with no trial and no charge and put in jail for seven years. Here, he had several odd jobs before finding a project he loved; carving illustrations on leather. When he got married and was sharing his stories with his family, his wife suggested he make this his profession. He now creates artwork carving and dying leather. The illustrations accompanying his story are exquisite.
One quote that I think is extremely important in this book is one that he uses to describe a painting of graves from the lynchings: “I have seven graves here, six for the victims I’ve imagined, and a seventh to bury hate, ‘cause I figured that, if we bury hate, then maybe this won’t happen again.”

How to Use This in the Classroom: This would be a great way to add to a civil rights unit. I could see using this story along with Leon’s Story. The illustration are so personal and unique, there could also be many great art projects to do. Children could discuss how recent this issue is. Winfred’s account takes place between the years of 1950 and 1996, very recent.

Domains of Social Justice:
Self-love and acceptance: Winfred always stays positive. He declares from the age of 12 that he will not be working on plantation his whole live. He loves art and finds a way to make that his livelihood.

Exploring Issues of Social Justice: This first hand account describes intimate issues of civil rights, racism, and segregation. It is very honest and informative.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ellinfton Was Not a Street

Ellington Was Not a Street
is a book written by Ntozake Shange in the form of a poem. In this poem, the author recalls many childhood memories of growing up in the company of "men who changed the world." She describes the open doors of her childhood home welcoming such historical and influential figures as Duke Ellington, W. E. B. DuBois, Paul Robeson, Ray Barretto, and many more. She remembers listening to these innovators as they gathered in her home to discuss politics. The poem paints a picture of the time period, capturing the mood and the warm attitudes of these important men. The last few pages of the book give a short biography of each influential figure mentioned in the poem. 

I really enjoyed reading this book and think it would be a great resource in the classroom. The illustrations are beautiful and really draw the reader into the scene described by the little girl. The fact that the story is told from the perspective of a young girl, and told as a personal story of memories from home, makes it a great way to introduce big ideas even to young children. 

How to use this book in the classroom:
 This poem, which is told from the perspective of a little girl, could spark many, many history lessons. I would definitely use this book to as an introduction to a unit on the Civil Rights Movement.  It could be used to begin research projects on the influential figures who appear in the poem, or on the time period and movement in general. There are so many important people introduced, students could choose just one of the people, and research further into the role that person played in shaping history.  I think the way the poem begins and ends with "it hasn't always been this way / Ellington was not a street, " could begin a discussion on how things have changes from then to now. From this, students could also investigate street names in their neighborhood and research about other important people who have has streets named after them. Because the book is written in the form of a poem, it could also easily be used in a poetry writing or reading unit. The poem makes use of many literary elements such as repetition, simile, and imagery. Even visually and rhythmically, the line breaks and form of the poem would be interesting to focus on.

Social Justice Education:
This book relates to many of the stages of social Justice Education.
2) Respect for Others: This book could be used to introduce students to the history and culture of African Americans in this country. The poem portrays these characters in history as innovative, respectable, and intelligent people whose hearts and minds were open. 
3) Exploring issues of Social Justice: Although the issues are not named in the poem, the ideas of such social justice issues are addressed in the work of the men who were fighting against racism and segregation, and towards rights and equality. 
4)Social Movements and Social Change: The poem is all about the men who worked to bring social change to this country.

Rickshaw Girl

Rickshaw Girl


This Chapter book focuses on a young girl, Naima, who lives in Bangladesh. The story focuses on her family's economic struggles due to the fact that her father is the only one in her family who can work due to cultural restraints against women making money. Naima is very frustrated with her inability to do anything to financially support her family. As a result, she decides to dress like a boy and take her fathers rickshaw in order to give her father a break from his long work hours. When this ends up making matters even worse, she is forced to be resourceful and use her skills at painting Alpanas, a Bangladeshi art, in order to make money for her family to repay the debt that she caused. The story integrates many aspects of the bangladeshi culture, and includes a glossary in the back explaining some of the terms that the book uses. 
I really like this book because it allows the students to be immersed in the culture of Naima. The language in the book is very descriptive and incorporates so much of the Bangladeshi culture, that it really helps the students feel like they are living in this culture. I also think it points out some very interesting factors surrounding cultural restrictions. Since, in the Bangladeshi culture women are not suppose to make a living, I think this would be a good way to discuss women's rights and cultural roles. 

How I Would Use This in the Classroom: 

This book is very useful in the classroom, not only is it a good read aloud for students either looking at the Bangladeshi culture, but also if they are focusing on women's rights and cultural restrictions. It would be interesting to compare this to either their own culture or another culture they have been studying. Another interesting activity I was thinking of would be to have the students in the class  go home and talk to an older member of their family or parents or grandparents about their own culture and ask if they had any restraints while growing up. This book would also be a really good book club book, because it does incorporate a lot of character development, while still exposing the students to the cultural aspects of the story. 

Social Justice Education:

This book can be viewed in many different stages of social justice. The main stage would be the Respect for others, because it really give the students a very descriptive view of the life in Bangladesh and the cultural beliefs in their society. The book also includes a lot of different cultural vocabulary words and gives a very descriptive analysis of those words in the glossary in the back. It even describes what a Sari is and how the women wore them, with a diagram of how to put it on. 
I also think that this book can fit into the Exploring Issues of Social Justice, because it does go into the idea of women's rights and how culture plays a role in that. Also, if you were to do the activity where the children looked at their own culture in comparison, it would touch on the first stage, Self-love and acceptance. I think this would be a really unique way to touch on this stage as well, because it would allow the students to compare their own culture to one that is more restrictive and unique in comparison to others. 

Where you can find this book:

This website has some great activities that you can use with this book-

Buy the book here or go to strand and get it for $4.95

Castle on Hester Street

Castle On Hester Street


This picture book looks at the multiple perspectives surrounding immigration. The story is about a little girl named Julie, whose grandparents are telling her about her experiences immigrating from Russia to the New York City. Her grandfather tells her a more idealistic and imaginative version of their journey, while her grandmother informs her of the more realistic and unpleasant version. The story flows in a way where the grandfather will tell his side on one page and then the next side will be the grandmother's point of view on that same aspect of the trip. 
I think this story is really great to use in the classroom, because it really allows the students to see the two side of the story, and discuss what they think one might be more accurate than the other. The grandfather's story is more in line with the common misconceptions of what immigration was like, where as the grandmother highlights more of the negative yet in a way more truthful side. It also goes through the process of what one had to do to immigrate to the United States, while still making it interesting and intriguing for students by using beautiful illustrations and a funny conflicting story line. I think this is a great book for any grade class learning about immigration. 

How Would I Use this in the Classroom: 

Like I said previously this is a great book for any grade classroom studying immigration, because it really allows the kids to see the different viewpoints surrounding the issue. It is a common misconception to view immigration as this amazing journey to a country with gold paved roads, but this book allows kids to see a more realistic viewpoint in comparison. I think the book illustrates very well the process of what people went through to come to the United States, and it would be a great sequence book to use. It also brings up many interesting discussion topics like, "Why did people want to come over to the United States?" and for some of the older children discussing why there is such differences in the two stories. I really like the idea of the multiple perspectives and talking about how a lot of times there are two sides to a story surrounding many of the social justice issues. 
Also, if you are doing a unit on immigration a interesting activity to do with kids surrounding the reasons for immigrating would be through a stimulation activity. I did this with my students last year and it worked out really interestingly. We had split the class in two groups (one smaller than the other) and had the kids play a game where they were suppose to make little pictures on index cards to get points. For the larger group we gave a bunch of markers and index cards to and for the smaller group we gave them one marker and not enough index cards and told them their cards were worth less points. Instantly this became a problem with the students in the smaller group, and they were saying how unfair it was. After about 5 minutes we brought them back to the rug, and asked the smaller group of students if they wanted to be in the other group, they all said yes. We told them that during immigration there was countries that had really unfair rules and not enough supplies and as a result it made a lot of people want to come to the united states where they heard that the "streets were paved with gold". We later discussed how this was not the case, but the activity really helped the kids understand why someone might want to immigrate to another country. 

Social Justice Education: 

I think that this mostly falls into the Respect for others stage, because it really allows the students to see the perspectives of someone who is immigrating to another country and the process that they have to go through. It also helps them see the more negative aspects of that journey. 
I also think that this could fall in the the Exploring Issues of Social Justice because it talks a lot about the common misconception of what it was like to immigrate, and talking about the oppression that many immigrants had to face. 

Where you can buy the book:

You can either buy it from here or go to Strand and get it for around $6.95 (I think- it was somewhere around that...VERY cheap!)

Uncle Jed's Barbershop

Uncle Jed's Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell is a book about sticking to your goals and accomplishing your dreams. Sara Jean's Uncle Jed has a lifelong dream to open up a barbershop, but he had to raise the money to do so first. However, Sara Jean gets sick, and Uncle Jed gives her family money for the surgery, even though this will delay his dream of opening a barbershop. The book takes place in the South in the early 1900s, and gives the reader a glimpse at racism, segregation, sharecropping, and the general life of a Black person living during this time. The tone that the author uses to describe these conditions is really similar to the tone used in Leon's Story, she provides the facts without accusing anyone. When Uncle Jed finally has enough money saved up to start working on getting a barbershop together, one of his friends comes over to break the news- his bank just declared bankruptcy and Uncle Jed has lost all his money- it's the start of the great depression. However, throughout all these hardships, Uncle Jed continues cutting hair, continues working towards his goal, and slowly but surely, he starts saving money all over again. At the end of the story he finally opens his barbershop and people from all over the county come to honor him.

I think this book is a great way to discuss segregation, sharecropping, and the conditions in the Jim Crowe South with the younger grades, as well as the economic situation during the great depression and the economic situation today. The book also strongly promotes saving money, and working little by little to solve a longterm goal.

Domains of Social Justice:
1. Self Love and Acceptance: One of the main themes in this story is to believe in yourself and follow your dreams- I think that's a huge aspect of accepting and loving yourself!

2. Respect for Others: Throughout the whole book, the author highlights moments in which people show each other care and respect. For instance, when Uncle Jed gave his hard earned money to Sara Jean for her surgery, or during the great depression when Uncle Jed continued traveling around the county and cutting hair, even though most of his customers couldn't afford it. In turn, his customers share with him whatever food they have.

3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: The author delicately touches upon topics such as racism, segregation, and delivers this information in such a way that it influences the reader to think about the injustices, without attacking any group of people.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Home to Medicine Mountain By: Chiori Santiago


Summary: In the 1930s young Native American children were taken from their families and forced to attend boarding schools, far away from their homes.  While the schools would pay for the students' train fare in order to go to school, they would not pay for their trip back home.  Unfortunately, many families could not afford to pay for the trip back.  
   This story is about the struggle, determination, and longing of two boys trying to get home on their own.  Benny Lee and his brother Stanley disliked school.  They couldn't stand how the uniforms they were forced to wear scratched their bodies and made them itch all over. They hated how the hard leather shoes they wore kept them from the comfort of the earth in between their toes.  They wished for the day to go back home to their grandmother's house and here her tell stories about the bear spirit that protected the people of Medicine Mountain.  
      When the summer came some students were able to go back home to their families, but those that couldn't afford the train fare would have to stay at school and work.  Benny Lee and his brother were not one of the lucky ones.  However, this did not keep them from missing their home.  One night the two boys escaped from school and rode on the top of boxcars all the way back to Medicine Mountain.  Though they were eventually forced to go back to school, the brothers now knew the way back home and would never let distance stand in the way of their families.

Reflect: This story really touched my heart, especially because it's a true story.  What really inspired though me was that the illustrator of the book is Benny Lee's daughter.  He had told her this story and she decided to share it with the world.  

Use in the Classroom: I could see myself using this book in order to help students write about important people in their lives or events in which they are not the main character.  This story could also be used to begin a unit on family, and how different people value the importance of family.  This could also be used to talk about illustration and the value that pictures play in texts.

Stages of Social Justice:
Exploring issues of social justice:  Benny Lee and Stanley's story dealt with the struggle that young Native American children had to face.  This was a form of segregation that effected many lives and has had numerous repercussions on generations afterwards. 

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Princess Grace; Storyby: Mary Hoffman

Princess Grace by Mary Hoffman: Book Cover

Princess Grace is the story of little girl named Grace who wants to be chosen as one of the princesses for the schools upcoming parade. Grace asks her grandmother to sew her an outfit for the parade and her grandmother asks her a thought provoking question... What kind of princess would you like to be? Grace and her friends were only thinking about the European images of princesses that they were accustomed to seeing in the media and her grandmother introduced the idea of different princesses like princess Amina of Nigeria, princess Pin-Yang of China and other princesses who were scientists, artists, and sports women. Read this amazing story to find out what kind of princess Grace will decide to be...

Princess Grace is a princess story that I enjoy reading to my six year old daughter. It represents a diverse image of what a princess can and does look like and it presents little girls with other standards of beauty other that the main Eurocentric view that floods our society. This story is great to add to any library because it challenges students perception of what beauty is and it also encourages children to decide for themselves what beauty is. 

Interaction with Social Justice Education: 
Self-love and acceptance:
In this book children learn about princesses of different cultures as well as the importance of accepting yourself for who you are and not conforming to mainstream ideologies. 

Respect for others:
This story portrays the lack of knowledge and respect that the Grace and her friends had been taught about princesses and what a princess looks and acts like. Through the wisdom and knowledge of Grace's grandmother, Grace and her friends learn about princesses of different cultures and gain respect for these new princesses that they learn about.

Exploring issues of social justice:
Grace and her grandmother explore the concept that princesses come in all shapes, sizes, cultures, and many many different cultures other than the mainstream image of a princess that she had been exposed to in the past.

Uses in the classroom:
In the classroom I would read this story with my students and have them choose a prince or princess from a culture of their choice and create a portrait of their prince or princess along with a short bio about him or her. 
visit: to purchase this book

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad by James Rumford

SUMMARY: Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad is a beautifully illustrated picture book with a powerful message. Like many other children his age, Ali enjoys playing soccer, listening to music, and dancing. However his favorite thing to do is practice the art of calligraphy. Ali uses the beauty of calligraphy to bring him inner peace as he grapples with the devastation and terror of war. Detailed and intricate calligraphy bring the pages to life as Ali tells his story.

USE: This book would be a great read-aloud in a unit exploring different cultures and/or looking deeper into the effects of war. Additionally it highlights how one child living in a worn-torn area finds inner peace. This could be grounds for multiple forms of discussion ranging from the effects of war on individuals to how people find outlets to express what they are going through. This could potentially turn into a larger study on current events and the U.S.' involvement in the war in the middle east. Students can write journal entries and/or create a piece of art in the perspective of a child living in a war-torn area.

REFLECTION: The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful! It starts out rather simple, explaining the main character's hobbies and his fascination with calligraphy. The powerful message of this book is made apparent when Ali describes his experience with war and how he deals with consequential fright. The very end of the book has a very moving and beautiful metaphor about the ease with which we can fall into war and how difficult it can be to obtain a much needed freedom. Love it!


1. Self-love and Acceptance: Middle-eastern and Muslim students will learn a little more about their culture through this book, exploring the beauty of calligraphy and the effects of living in war-torn Baghdad.

2. Respect for Others: Students will learn more about middle-eastern and Muslim culture as they read this story.

3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students will start to become aware of the harmful and unjust effects of war as Ali describes the fear he experiences when bombs fall on his city.



Check it out at

Summary: This book is about Jackie Robinson, the first African American on a major league baseball team, and how he is taunted, threatened, and excluded, even by many of his own teammates, because of the color of his skin. However, one of Jackie's teammates, Pee Wee Reese, stood up for him by putting his arm around Jackie during a baseball game for all of the jeering crowd to see and said, "I am standing by him, this man is my teammate," which caused the crowd to gasp and stop their jeering.

Reflection: I was really touched by this story. The majority of the book shows how hard it was for Jackie, how stoic he was, and how  hard it could be for a white person to stand up for a black person and do the right thing. However, the end of the book shows something very positive that came out of Jackie sticking to it despite how hard it was, and a white person doing the right thing and sticking up for his teammate. I like how the book is set up up pessimistically and ends optimistically because it confronts the harsh reality, but also gives hope.

Domains of social justice:
Self-love and acceptance- Jackie Robinson displays self-love and acceptance because he stays strong and calm despite being threatened and taunted, which I believe requires a great deal of self-love to be able to keep that inner peace.

Respect for others-Pee Wee  Reese models respecting others. He does not look at Jackie as a black person, but as his teammate and a talented baseball player, and he respects Jackie as both of those.

Exploring Issues of Social Justice-Pee Wee Reese stood up for justice. It was unfair that Jackie was being taunted or that others were trying to kick him off the team, because he was a great guy and a great baseball player. Pee Wee saw how unfair this was and did something about it. 

Social movements and social change- Jackie Robinson Pee Wee Reese, and Branch Rickey (whose idea it was to have Jackie on the team) were models/symbols of social change. They went against what was socially acceptable and risked being taunted and threatened to show the world that desegregation can work, that a black man and a white man can be supporting teammates of each other, and that people should stand up for the right thing.

Uses in the classroom: The story is well written, but I think it lacks power words and images. I think the students could make their own version of the story through a few powerful, select words and images.

Suki's Kimono

Title: Suki's Kimono
Author: Chieri Uegaki

This story is about a young girl named Suki. It is the first day back to school and Suki decides to wear a kimono her grandmother (obachan)bought for her to wear on a special day they shared that summer at a festival. Suki's sisters that it was a ridiculous idea for Suki to wear it to school and warned her that she would be made fun of but Suki didn't care. Once at school other kids approach Suki questioning and making fun of the way she dressed. The teacher allowed all the students the opportunity to say one thing about their summer. Suki shared her special moment at the festival in her kimono. By the end, all the students were interested and liked her story and her kimono and gave Suki a nice round of applause.

How can this book be used in the classroom:
This book can be used with younger grades (K-2 possibly 3) in teaching respecting others' differences but especially self pride of one's culture. I feel that many students don't have the opportunity of exploring, learning, and then sharing their culture. This book can be used during the beginning of the school year to springboard into a 'Getting to know you' activity involving the students' cultures. For older grades (3-5) this book can be used to introduce the concept of Americanization and explore the struggle of maintaining one's traditional culture while adopting to the American culture.

How does this book relate to Social Justice Education:

1. Self-love and Acceptance: Children learn about their own culture.
This book shows how a child, Suki, has explored and learned more about her culture through the experiences she shares with her family.

2. Respect for Others: Strengthens intercultural competence.
This book shows how the other students showed or lacked respect and understanding of Suki's culture which probably differs from their own culture. Penny's questioning and inquiry of Suki's outfit show a beginning step in learning and respecting another's culture.

3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Racism
This book shows the mean treatment some of the students gave Suki as well as the way Suki dealt with the situation. Suki ignored many of the mean comments made by the children. More importantly, she decided to share and inform others about the differences they were ridiculing which helped theme learn about her culture and find a respect for Suki and her culture.

-Sara Sepulveda


by William Armstrong.


Summary: This book tells us about a coon dog and a boy who live with his parents and three younger siblings in a plantation. There was scarcely any food for the family to eat. Every night, the boy’s father and Sounder would go hunting, but it was becoming more and more difficult to catch anything. Night after night he would come home empty handed. But in desperate need to feed his hungry family, the boy’s father when out one night and stole some food. He was then jailed for stealing food and Sounder seeing his master being taken away tries to protect him and was shot getting wounded badly. Sounded ran off and hides, he returns after a few weeks and even then it was very tough for the family. The boy now has to take care of the family while his father is in prison. His father was sent to hard labor for his crime. The boy was curious to where his father was and everyday, after doing his chores he would go on long journey in search of his father. The boy was always curious and wanted to learn to read. While on his long journey, he came across this stranger who was a teacher and was willing to teach him to read. The boy was full of enthusiasm to learn to read and although his father and Sounder died the boy was determine to continue to go to school.

Reflection and use of book: This book would be a great addition to a classroom library because it describe the struggles difficulties a typical black family went through to survive; barely having enough food to eat. It also talks about the determination and courage of a boy who learned to read and how it renewed his strength and gave him hope. This book can be used in a nonfiction unit depicting discrimination and inequality of blacks and whites. It shows how some blacks barely had any food to eat and many times went hungry and the hardships they faced trying to survive.
Social Justice Domains:
1) Self-love and acceptance: Even though the boy had the difficulties to joggle to take care of his family and working, he was still determined to learn to read. A few days after his father died, he made sure that his family had enough chopped wood and food and went on his long journey for school.
2) Respect For others: Throughout the story, the boy was always respectful to his parents and everyone else. Even when he visited his father in jail and he was very angry with the guard for mistreating him, he was still respectful.
3) Exploring Issues of Social injustice: The boy was determined to learn to read and although he had no idea how he was going to accomplish it he kept the dream alive in his mind.
4) Social Movement and Social change: During one of the boy’s long journey, he discovered that his dream would finally learn to read. Somehow deep down inside him, he knew that it would change his life.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Uncle Jed's Barbershop

Title: Uncle Jed’s Barbershop
Author: Margaree King Mitchell


The story takes place in the South just before the Great Depression. Uncle Jed, Sarah Jean’s granduncle, was the only black barber in the county. He dreamt of opening up his own barbershop one day in the future. In those days, dreams like that were uncommon, yet Uncle Jed head steadfast to that dream. He wasn’t able to open his barbershop for a long time though due to a couple setbacks - he paid for Sarah Jean’s emergency operation and then because of the Great Depression he lost all his money kept in the bank. He finally opened his barbershop on his 79th birthday – he made his dream come true. Throughout the story, concepts of discrimination and poverty are explained for straightforwardly, making it easier for young children to understand. Besides these concepts, the importance of family, friends, and community are also emphasized.

To be honest the first read through the book I could feel some tears welling up in my eyes! I loved how Uncle Jed never broke out in anger; he just started saving up all over again. By the last couple pages the reader shares in the joy Uncle Jed feels when he finally opens up his barbershop. The reader not only learns about the poverty and discrimination in that time, but also learns about community. What a great book to teach with!

Uses For Book
This book brings a lot to the table. It describes the hardship and struggle of being black and living in the south before and during the Great Depression. It also talks about segregation and poverty. Thus, this book can be used on various units on The Great Depression and on racism and segregation. Since this book is a fictional story, it will give students a good idea of what life was like in that time period. Students may choose to do more research on real families who lived in that time. This is a great book to be used for children of younger ages since they wording of the story is very simplified and straightforward. This would also be a great book to read through multiple times and pull various lessons from it.

Social Justice Education

Self Love and Acceptance
Despite a few setbacks, Uncle Jed still pursued his dream even if it did take him a long time. He kept his dream alive and worked hard to fulfill his dream. He passed this same determination and passion on to Sarah Jean. She learned to fight for her dreams as well. A great message that this story has simply that – to fight for your dreams and don’t let anyone stop you. In order to do that you must believe in yourself.

Respect for Others
Throughout the story, Uncle Jed always had respect for everyone – his clients, his family, and even the bank. He knew that the times were hard and that people were struggling. He never judged or complained about others. His respect for all these people was admirable.

Exploring Issues of Social Justice
There were two instances were issues of social justice was brought up. In one part, Sarah Jeans talks about what living in the South was like. At that time, many families lived in poverty. In fact, many of them were sharecroppers forced to work someone else’s land in exchange for a share of the crop. Later, Sarah Jean talks about the segregation at the time and how whites and blacks were forced to use separate restrooms, water fountains, and schools. When Sarah Jean was brought to the hospital, she was looked at only after all the white patients were taken care of. These issues are all well integrated into the story, but they still give you a good sense of what some of the injustices were at the time.

Social Movements and Social Change
When people like Uncle Jed accomplished their goals and fulfilled the dreams, they were making social change. It was common for people to succeed in such a way. By establishing the barbershop he was making great leaps for equality for the blacks.

Taking Social Action
This story teaches you to dream and to work hard to fulfill those dreams. I think students will realize that they too get fight for what they believe in. The can achieve the goals they set if they really work hard for it. And since the story introduces a few concepts related to racism and discrimination, I feel that they will be motivated to explore how these topics are still relevant today.


Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

Summary: The book, Rosa, tells a real historical event that happened in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. Mrs. Rosa Parks, an African American woman, was arrested for refusing to give her seat to a white passenger on a bus. The injustice to Mrs. Parks encouraged Women’s Political Council to take actions for making a change to their community. They first send out stencil posters to encourage “colored” people in Montgomery to boycott the buses by walking. Through this peaceful movement and the courage of Mrs. Rosa Park, many people felt that they were united together to say “no” to all the social injustice that they suffered. After one year of walking, the supreme court of the United Stated ruled that any kind of segregation was illegal including segregation on the bus. This story book vividly describes and illustrates this powerful revolutionary event in our history.

Stages of Social Justice Education:

Exploring issues of social justice: Students will be able to look at the social injustice that Rosa Parks was facing at that time. They will compare with our current situation with Rosa Park’s every life to see how we live differently or similarly. Then ask students to explore if our society is really as perfect as many people think. Encourage students to look at current social injustice issues by comparing with Rosa Park’s bus incident.

Social Movements and Social Change: Students will be able to learn from Rosa Park and people in Montgomery, Alabama that they have ability to make a change. However it is also important to know that we should take peaceful, never violent, action to protest.

Reflection and Use: I chose this book for our book club because I believe that students should remember what happened in our history and how people stood up together to against social injustice. I could use this book for a unit study of “Civil Rights Movement.” It could be used as a read-aloud book. However, teacher need to provide historical background information before the lesson and students can also do further research after the lesson. This book can also be used for book club. Students will compare Lisa's story with the other book clubs to find how different people react differently or similarly to the same issue. From this unit, students will learn how people in the past united to say “No” to social injustice through peaceful but brave movements, and finally brought justice to our society. I also want my students to learn that they have models to follow from our history and none of us is alone.

To purchase:
To learn more about Rosa Parks, or more teaching resources:

Just For Now: Kids and the People of the Court

See full size imageJust for Now by Kimberly Morris

(sorry the picture is so small, I couldn't get a bigger one!)

Summary: Just for Now is a book about a brother and sister who get taken to a foster home and are told that it's "just for now." We learn about the confusion, fear, lonliness, and hope that accomponies foster children when they leave home and enter a foster home. At first, the brother and sister are very angry at their caseworker for taking them away from their home and their mom, but then they begin to feel safe in their new, temporary home at the Lin's. They love having lots of brothers and sisters and they secretly adopt a puppy! There were a few scheduled supervised meetings with their mom, but she either never showed up or showed up drunk and unhappy. Eventually, the children get a child advocate whom adores them and whom they adore as well. They can trust this woman and know that she will be on their side for good. At the end, the brother and sister end up getting to see their mom and this time she is happy and getting better. She has been seeing a doctor about her drug problem and wants to learn how to become a better mother. What's nice about this book is that there are definitions of all of the "big words" used (child advocate, judge, hearing, etc.) so that students can better understand these confusing and scary words. 

Reflection: I liked this book. I think it would be a nice resource to have to help students who are in/have been in foster care better understand their situations. However, there is a "happy ending" which doesn't happen all the time for foster children. They don't always get to be reunited with their mother or father, so I wouldn't want this book to make students feel bad if that is not what happened for them. I does mention many different issues that cause children to enter foster care, though, which is good because it addresses a wide variety of situations. 

How I would use it: I would like to have this book in my classroom as a reference tool for students who are in foster care or students who are curious about it. It's very informative and makes difficult jargon easy to understand for kids. I think it's important to have books in the classroom that range from a variety of different lifestyles that our students may lead, and this book certainly does that. I would also use this book as a launch for a social action project (maybe being pen pals with foster children or meeting with foster children once a week as a sort of "buddy" project). 

Domains of Social Justice:
Self-Love: This book addresses this domain because it gives foster children a chance to learn more about their situations and see the positive things that can come from it. 
Respect for Others: This book addresses this domain because it informs other students what being in a foster care situation is like and all the struggles that come with it. 
Exploring Issues of Social Justice: This book addresses this domain because it explores issues of child abuse/neglect and drug abuse.
Social Movements and Social Change: This book addresses this domain on a smaller, more personal level. Students get to see what kinds of things are involved in fighting for childrens' rights.