This is a buzzword that you hear a lot these days. Simply put, it is when you put forth ideals of a just society by challenging injustice and valuing adversity. There are plenty of books that deal with issues like this. We have had to read eight books all about this issue over the past two weeks. Because they are all dealing with the same overall issue, I decided to combine them into one reflection (hope that's ok!).
Two of these books are repeated from weeks before: An Unspeakable Crime: The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank and The Iguana Tree. The first book mentioned above is all about the persecution of a factory superintendent, Leo Frank. The people initially arrest a black watchman, but then turn to this Jewish-American superintendent. They proceed to gather evidence to try and persecute him for the crime. The second book is about these boys who cross the border from Mexico into the US and look for work in the Carolinas. It is all about the struggle they face on their journey to freedom. This one isn't social justice as much as it is global awareness - teaching students what kinds of things really go on in the world around them. Students can be so jaded and naive when it comes to issues like this, having never gone through them themselves.
The other books that we were to read over the course of this week can be ranked in the same two categories: Social Justice and Global Awareness. There is some crossover of course, in the books like I am Malala and Sold, but they all tie in to these overarching themes.
The article added to the eight books for these two weeks was incredibly powerful. On the very first page, I loved this quote:
"Literature has the power to transform our thinking.
It can be a window into the world to help us recog-
nize and understand the problems and injustices that
pervade societies and make us realize that we need
to take action to make a difference."
How powerful is that? Literature has that kind of power in our lives. Just a book? Wow. That's huge.
That really makes you think about the kind of power that teachers and librarians truly have. By simply recommending a book to a student/teenage patron, you are opening up their eyes to the injustices of the past, of the present, of the world. You're teaching them about the world and inspiring them to make a difference.
I really liked the section of this article that gave all of the ideas for literary response. I think I will be adapting them for use in my classroom with the novel that we are starting after spring break - The Fault in Our Stars. Not social justice or global awareness, but still neat ideas that I can use.
Alphin, E. (2010). An unspeakable crime : the prosecution and persecution of Leo Frank. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books.
Hiaasen, C. (2005). Hoot. New York: Yearling.
Lai, T. (2013). Inside out & back again. New York, NY: Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers.
McCormick, P. (2008). Sold. New York: Hyperion Paperbacks.
Perkins, M. & Hogan, J. (2008). Rickshaw girl. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
Skloot, R. (2011). The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Broadway Paperbacks.
Smolen, L., & MacDonald, S. (2009). Adolescent Literature and Reader Response: "It's about Global Awareness and Social Justice!" International Journal of Learning, 15(10), 207-212.
Stone, M. (2013). The iguana tree. Spartanburg: Hub City Press.
Yousafzai, M. & Lamb, C. (2013). I am Malala : the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban. New York, NY: Little, Brown, & Company.