There’s Something New in MindShift – Big Ones
By Alison Lytton
Social injustice can mean different things to different people. Some find it by looking at the news. To others, it’s the result of a series of small actions taken in or about the United States. Regardless of your motivations, all of us have been affected in some way by social injustice.
Gretchen Rubin and Michael Luca have an idea that may make social justice less of a political divide and more of a community desire. In their book for kids, Big Ones, their big ideas for making the world a better place are for everyone. That includes drawing your children into the movement, because a child learns so much through example.
Below are three books for middle-grade children that teach kids about social justice and activism. Big Ones are also available in standard paperback.
Is Justice for All?
Written by Linda Yocam
Little, Brown and Company
July 8, 2017
If justice means “all,” then children should read Linda Yocam’s Is Justice for All? It’s a good read for children ages 8 to 12. Yocam draws from the stories of 13 immigrants and refugees over the past 100 years and uses them to explain what it means to be an immigrant and refugee. She puts the activities children can take at home to use as part of the community.
Written by Jonathan Troop
Sept. 27, 2017
If justice means “justice,” then children should read Jonathan Troop’s Golden Heart. Golden Heart is about two boys from African American and Mexican immigrant families, Connor and Christophe, who meet for the first time at an art class. Connor is Latino and Christophe is an immigrant from Mexico. Both boys find they have a lot in common, but Christophe seems to have the better life of the two. As the boys grow up, they learn things about each other that actually make their lives better.
Mohammed, My Homie
Written by Lindsay Neary
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Oct. 24, 2017
Mohammed, My Homie is for children ages 11 to 14. Junior journalist, Luke, is fed up with the stereotypes of Muslim boys: they are either dressing in a way that is misinterpreted or misunderstood. So he tries to make up his own version of what it means to be a Muslim boy. Luke also worries about his Muslim mother, who works odd jobs to get by. He is worried about bullies. Luke decides to write a story about Mohammed, who is a Muslim boy who likes to dress up in Western clothes. He doesn’t care about the stereotypes or the cost of taking risks, he just wants to get the story done.
Chaput’s Book of Dreams
Written by Nick Cave
Little, Brown and Company
Nov. 7, 2017
Author Nick Cave tells the story of a girl who grows up in an Irish Catholic family and watches her mother die and then return from the dead. She grows up to become a nun, but is disturbed by the idea of dying again when the children in her orphanage die. She goes to a psychodrama group to work out her feelings and helps to create the idea of reincarnation as well as the idea of the cosmos.
Big Ones are also available in standard paperback. This is a lovely collection of stories told by students in preschool through fifth grade.
About Alison Lytton
As the Director of Content at MindShift, Alison teaches children and families an organized way to make reading a fun, meaningful way to get information. At MindShift, Alison found that children learn best when they are taught to approach information with a sense of curiosity and an open mind. She and her team challenge children to create personal, social justice-related action that can be taken in their community.
Allison and her team have created a series of resources and product applications to help teachers and parents coordinate and use MindShift’s guided, group reading for children curriculum. The child activity involves stories from across cultures as well as an annotated methodology to help make children’s reading more meaningful. Alison and her team also work closely with the Department of Children’s Services to create MindShift Reading Littles workshops to help teachers instruct kids in the essential life skills and communication skills necessary to prepare them for kindergarten.