In the first article in this issue, “Why are People Marching? Discussing Justice- Oriented Citizenship using Picture Books,” Jessica Ferreras-Stone and Sara B. Demoiny outline how teachers, in accordance with NCSS guidelines, can use picture books to spur discussions about justice-oriented citizenship, including protest marches, as a means to understand the past and present.
Teaching about the civil rights movement in the elementary grades has, in many schools, focused exclusively on the lives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Many students are well versed in the content of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, and they know well that Rosa did not give up her seat on the bus.
Former President Barack Obama has touched hearts by sharing his inspiring book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, with the children of the world. Together, with the breathtaking illustrations of Loren Long, Obama presents 13 historical figures that have each had a profound impact on America. In a very different book, Calling the Doves/ El Canto de las Palomas, award-winning Mexican American poet Juan Felipe Herrera beautifully illustrates his childhood as the son of Mexican migrant farmworkers.
We live in a world that is becoming increasingly divided, particularly in the United States. In fact, people tend to interact almost exclusively with individuals who hold their shared world views and beliefs. Because of these trends, teaching students from a young age how to engage with others on issues that they may disagree about is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, this type of social studies learning rarely happens in public schools, particularly in lower elementary school classrooms.