Children’s Literature Annotated
Dr. Ava L. McCall
● Integrating Children’s Literature and Social Studies
● Native Americans: Sources for Recommended Texts
● Women: Collections of Folktales Portraying Strong Women From
Different Parts of the World
● Background Readings on the Integration of Children’s Literature
with Social Studies
● Sources Of Multicultural Books For Children And Adolescents
Integrating Children’s Literature and Social Studies
Cobblestone is a history magazine geared for grades three through middle school. Each issue has
a theme and a brief recommended list of books dealing with the theme. The editors seem to be
sensitive about including information on women and men from different cultural, ethnic, racial,
and socioeconomic groups. Available in the library.
Fredericks, A. D. (1991). Social studies through children's literature. Englewood, CO: Teacher
The author explains his whole language philosophy and encourages teachers to integrate
whole language into the social studies curriculum. He suggests children's literature which
can be used to teach the social studies topics of child and self, family, community and
neighborhood, city and country, states and regions, nation and country, and world. The
author lists general whole language activities which integrate social studies and different
disciplines as well as gives specific critical thinking questions and activities for each
Fredericks, A. D. (2000). More social studies through children’s literature. Englewood, CO:
Teacher Ideas Press.
The author uses the same format as his earlier text with new children’s literature titles for
the same social studies topics of child and self, family, community and neighborhood,
city and country, states and regions, nation and country, and world. In addition, he lists
the social studies standards which each text addresses.
Harris, V. J. (Ed.). (1993). Teaching multicultural literature in grades k-8. Norwood, MA:
This book is a valuable resource for background reading on the politics of children's
literature, general guidelines for selecting multicultural literature, and recommendations
for literature to portray African Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Native Americans,
Puerto Ricans, Mexican Americans, and Caribbeans. The editor also provides a list of
sources for multicultural children's literature.
Harris, V. J. (Ed.). (1997). Using multiethnic literature in the k-8 classroom. Norwood, MA:
This book is an extension and update of Teaching multicultural literature in grades k-8
text. Different authors provide recommendations for selecting k-8 literature to portray
African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Asian Pacific Americans, Mexican Americans, and
Native Americans. Daniel Hade's chapter on "reading multiculturally" introduces the idea
of teachers exposing injustice and bringing out different points of view through children's
literature rather than hoping students will develop these interpretations independently.
Hurst, C. O. & Otis, R. (1999). Friends and relations: Using literature with social themes K-2.
Greenfield, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children.
The authors provide some general purposes for teachers using children’s literature (to
start discussions, pique children’s interest in a subject, and to pose and answer questions)
and suggestions for selecting children’s books (select books you like, which are well-written with believable characters and a good story). Another valuable aspect of the text
is the advice about holding good discussions around books and selecting meaningful
activities to extend the meanings of texts. The authors then offer summaries of texts,
discussion questions and topics, and activities which teachers can use to focus on the
themes of friendship, families, and working together.
Irvin, J.L., Lunstrum, J.P., Lynch-Brown, C. & Shepard, M.F. (1995). Enhancing social studies
through literacy strategies. Washington, DC: National Council for the Social Studies.
Chapter 1 briefly discusses using controversial issues to build motivation for learning
among students. Chapter 2 includes meaningful vocabulary development activities which
lead to conceptual development. In chapter 3, the authors focus on why critical reading
often does not happen among students and suggest strategies for fostering critical reading.
In the final chapter, the authors address the value of using literature to teach history,
strategies for linking history and literature (reading aloud; reading independently; and
eliciting students' responses to literature), and suggest trade books appropriate for
teaching different eras in U.S. History.
Jobe, R. (1993). Cultural connections: Using literature to explore world cultures with children.
The author’s main purpose is to suggest literature teachers might use with students ages
nine through 12 to learn about their own culture as well as the cultures of others. He
suggests traditional tales, including folktales, transported, transformed, embedded, and
fractured tales for learning about cultures. Themes for cultural encounters, cross-cultural
experiences, cultural clashes, and cultural reawakenings (specifically regarding the
Mayans, Australian Aboriginals, First Nations, and African Americans) are also described
with suggestions for texts and activities to explore each theme. The author explains the
use of specific texts portraying children and youth from different cultural backgrounds
around the world with students to help them make connections between themselves and
the texts. Finally, the author suggests ways to check for the authenticity of a cultural
portrait in texts.
Krey, D. M. (1998). Children’s literature in social studies: Teaching to the standards.
Washington DC: National Council for the Social Studies.
The author provides a rationale for literature-based social studies teaching and offers
literature response activities based on the multiple intelligences. She lists the criteria
used in selecting recommended books and includes brief annotations about the 547
recommended children’s trade books which fit with the ten thematic strands as described
in Expectations of Excellence, including: culture; time, continuity, and change; people,
places, and environments; individual development and identity; individuals, groups, and
institutions; power, authority, and governance; production, distribution, and consumption;
science, technology, and society; and global connections; civic ideals and practices.
Kruse, G. M. & Horning, K. T. (1991). Multicultural literature for children and young adults: A
selected listing of books 1980-1990 by and about people of color (3rd ed.). Madison, WI:
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
This resource gives suggestions of multicultural books for children and adolescents
published since 1980. The authors gave careful consideration to books written or
illustrated by people of color, were authentic and accurate, and reflected cultural diversity
in their illustrations, text, photographs, poems, and short stories.
Laughlin, M. K. & Kardaleff, P. P. (1991). Literature-based social studies: Children's books &
activities to enrich K-5 curriculum. Phoenix: Oryx Press.
As the title explains, this resource suggests books and follow-up activities for the K-5
social studies curriculum. Books and activities for K-1 social studies topics include:
myself; families; economics of family living; homes; children and their families near and
far; friendship; groups: working and playing together; transportation; and holidays.
Grades 2/3 social studies topics include: Native American communities; pioneer
communities; rural and small town living; urban living; being an American; world
neighbors; and celebrations. Grades 4/5 social studies topics include: early America;
becoming a nation; the American frontier; the Civil War era; America, land of change;
and the U.S., today and tomorrow.
Manning, M., Manning, G. & Long, R. (1997). The theme immersion compendium for social
studies teaching. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
The authors summarize main ideas, suggest teaching/learning activities, and list trade
books for such topics as conflict, including the concept of violence as well as most wars
such as the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Suggestions for trade books to use in
teaching about Columbus and the Pilgrims are integrated within the section “Settlements
of the United States” while recommendations for suitable texts for focusing on Native
Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latino Americans are included in
the section “Cultural Diversity in the United States.”
Miller, W. J. (1997). U.S. history through children's literature: From the colonial period to
World War II. Englewood, CO: Teacher Idea Press.
The author lists recommended texts for students in grades 4 through 8 to read as a whole
group, in small groups, and for individual reading, research, or as read-alouds. She
divides the texts into the social studies topics of Native Americans; exploration;
American Revolution and the Constitution; slavery and the Civil War; pioneer life and
westward expansion; immigration; Industrial Revolution; World War I; and World War
II. For each text recommended for reading in whole groups or small groups, the author
provides text summaries; background information on the author; activities to extend the
text; discussion questions; and vocabulary to develop for understanding the text. Some
recommendations, especially those for the Native American unit, should be verified by
authors specializing in Native American literature.
Pogrebin, L. C. (Ed.) (1982). Stories for Free Children. New York: McGraw-Hill.
This book contains a broad collection of fiction and nonfiction appropriate for children
and early adolescents largely focusing on women in history or contemporary issues of
concern to women such as families and equal pay.
Ramirez, G. Jr. & Ramirez, J. L. (1994). Multiethnic children's literature. Albany, NY: Delmar.
The authors provide reasons for using multiethnic children's literature, guidelines for
selecting such literature, and suggestions for books about Mexican Americans, Puerto
Ricans, other Latinos, African Americans, Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans,
other Asian Americans, and Native Americans. The authors also suggest various
activities to extend children's experiences with the literature.
Rasinski, T. V. & Gillespie, C. S. (1992). Sensitive issues: An annotated guide to children's
literature k-6. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx.
The authors suggest reasons and strategies for using children's books to explore sensitive
issues. The most valuable chapters are those which describe examples of books and
strategies to use them in helping children deal with divorce, substance abuse (drugs and
alcohol), death and dying, nontraditional home environments (family structures different
from traditional nuclear families), child abuse, prejudice and cultural differences, moving,
and illness and disability.
Rogers, L. K. (1997). Geographic literacy through children's literature. Englewood, CO:
The author suggests children's literature and activities for using children's books for
teaching the five geographic themes: location, place, human-environmental relations,
movement, and regions. An annotated bibliography of more than 160 books is included
which reviews all the literature incorporated within the text.
Social Education's annual April/May issue publishes a list of notable trade books appropriate
for social studies. The books are recommended based on these criteria: 1) written primarily for
children in grades K-8; 2) emphasize human relationships; 3) represent a diversity of groups and
are sensitive to a broad range of cultural experiences; 4) present an original theme or a fresh slant
on a traditional topic; 5) are easily readable and of high literary quality; and 6) have a pleasing
format and, when appropriate, illustrations that enrich the text. The journal is available in the
library and a number of books from these lists have been purchased for the EMC.
Social Studies and the Young Learner offers suggestions for children's books dealing with
social studies topics. Each issue has a brief article entitled "Children's Literature" which focuses
on suggestions for books generally in social studies or for books dealing with the theme of the
issue. Available in the library.
Tunnell, M. O. & Ammon, R. (1993). The story of ourselves: Teaching history through
children's literature. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
All authors assert the value of using trade books and the weaknesses of history textbooks
in teaching history. Four chapters are written by authors and illustrators of historical
fiction and nonfiction who explain their purposes and goals in their writing and art. One
chapter reviews the differences in the portrayal of history in trade books and textbooks.
Another chapter deals with the influence of ideology on children's literature. Different
trade book genres are introduced which can teach history, including fantasy, picture
books, folktales, legends, and poetry. Chapter 11 suggests excellent activities for using
trade books; chapter 12 describes a unit on teaching about the Holocaust through trade
books. The last chapter includes an annotated bibliography of literature appropriate for
teaching about different historical topics.
Zarnowski, M. & Gallagher, A. F. (Eds.). (1993). Children's literature & social studies:Selecting
and using notable books in the classroom. Washington, DC: National Council for the Social
This resource has five chapters focusing on suggestions for selecting picture books,
biographies, and other books for reading aloud, teaching the five geographic themes, and
dealing with war and conflict. Seven chapters concentrate on ways to use books in
classroom instruction. Suggested lesson plans and strategies such as talk show formats,
literature folders, and literature sets are described.
Zarrillo, J. (1994). Multicultural literature, multicultural teaching: Units for the elementary
grades. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace.
The author first provides guidelines for preparing a multicultural literature unit, then
illustrates examples of four different types of units, author units, genre units, thematic
units, and cross-curricular units for lower elementary and upper elementary levels. Paul
Goble and Virginia Hamilton are the authors selected for the author units and suggestions
are made for books for independent reading, for presenting to the class, for small groups,
as well as examples of media, poetry, projects, activities for ESL students, and teacher
directed lessons which could be used. Excellent suggestions for a unit on immigration
are included as a genre unit, other units on "Proud to Be Me: Growing and Changing"
and "Together We Can: Families and Friends" as thematic units, and "Americans All:
People Who Made a Difference" and "China" as cross-curricular units. Each unit
includes examples of activities, resources, and many suggestions for books.
Native Americans: Sources for Recommended Texts
Harvey, K. D., Harjo, L. D. & Jackson, J. K. (1997). Teaching about Native Americans (2nd ed.).
Washington, DC: National Council for the Social Studies.
Harvey, K. D., Harjo, L. D. & Welborn, L. (1995). How to teach about American Indians: A
guide for the school library media specialist. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
Slapin, B. & Seale, D. (1992). Through Indian eyes: The Native experience in books for children.
Philadelphia: New Society.
Women: Collections of Folktales Portraying Strong Women from Different
Parts of the World
Barchers, S. I. (1990). Wise women: Folk and fairy tales from around the world. Englewood,
CO: Libraries Unlimited.
The editor reviewed 4000 folk and fairy tales to find 100 tales with female heroes who
show intelligence, perseverance, or bravery. The tales selected represent the best of
heroic women. The editor tried to counter the image of women as victims, spoiled
princesses, or passive heroines needing to be rescued. She included tales from the United
States (Ozarks, Native American, Northeast, and Hawaii) Europe (Germany, Italy,
Scotland, France, Portugal, Spain, Norway, England, Sweden, Greece), Asia (Japan,
China, Turkey, India, Korea, Russia), and Africa (Algeria).
Hayes, J. (1994). Watch out for clever women! El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos.
The editor collected five folktales of Latina women in the Southwest. He clarified that
Southwest folktales originally came from Spain, then Mexico, then to the Southwest
United States, including the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and California.
Women are depicted as thinkers, resourceful, and strong. They outsmart thieves who try
to steal food or gold and rich men who attempt to renege on their promises of payment.
Phelps, E. J. (1981). The maid of the north: Feminist folk tales from around the world. New
York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
The author collected these tales because of her concern that women in folk and fairy tales
portray women as obedient, good, meek, and submissive. She found folktales which
included women characters who showed self-confidence, courage, solved dilemmas, and
had leading roles in the stories. Tales are from Japan, Germany, aFrica, England, West
Pakistan, Norway, South Africa, and Russia.
Phelps, E. J. (1978). Tatterhood and other tales. New York: The Feminist Press.
The author collected folktales which have active and courageous girls and women in
leading roles. The introduction explains that folktales are stories that ordinary people told
to entertain family and friends and to develop community. Women were involved in
telling tales, although most portray girls and women unfavorably. The author is trying to
address this imbalance in the collection. Tales are included from South Africa, Republic
of the Ivory Coast, Egypt, Japan, West Pakistan, China, Ecuador, England, Wales,
Scotland, Ireland, Norway, and from Native Americans in the United States.
Yolen, J. (2000). Not one damsel in distress: World folktales for strong girls. San Diego:
Yolen collected and retold 13 folktales, legends, and possibly true stories from different
parts of the world, including Europe (Greece, Germany, Scotland, Romania, Poland, and
England), Africa (Niger), South America (Argentina), Asia (China and Japan), and the
United States (White River Sioux or Lakota in Minnesota and Ozark Mountains region).
The main characters are females who use their wit, courage, and strength to overcome a
foe or accomplish a goal. They do not follow traditional expectations for girls or women.
Yolen lists the sources of her tales and also explains how she came to interpret each
folktale, legend, or story as she did.
Background Readings on the Integration of Children’s Literature with Social
Benedict, S. (1992). Reading the past through children's eyes. The New Advocate, 5(4), 265-277.
Cai, M. (1992). Variables and values in historical fiction for children. The New Advocate, 5(4),
Cianciolo, P. (1981). Yesterday comes alive for readers of historical fiction. Language Arts,
Danielson, K. E. (1989). Helping history come alive with literature. The Social Studies, 80(2),
Freeman, E. B. & Levstik, L. (1988). Recreating the past: Historical fiction in the social studies
curriculum. The Elementary School Journal, 88(4), 329-337.
Hansen, J. (1990). Whose story is it? The New Advocate, 3(3), 167-173.
Hennings, D. G. (December, 1982). Reading picture storybooks in the social studies. The
Reading Teacher, 284-289.
James, M. & Zarrillo, J. (1989). Teaching history with children's literature: A concept-based,
interdisciplinary approach. The Social Studies, 80(4), 153-158.
Morgan, A. L. (1991). Long ago and far away in Vietnam: Yesterday's folktales for today's
children. The New Advocate, 4(1), 47-56.
Rudman, M. K. & Rosenberg, S. P. (1991). Confronting history: Holocaust books for children.
The New Advocate, 4(3), 163-177.
Stanley, D. (1988). Picture book history. The New Advocate, 1(4), 209-220.
Zarnowski, M. (1988). Learning about contemporary women: Sharing biographies with
children. The Social Studies, 79(2) 61-63.
Sources Of Multicultural Books For Children And Adolescents
Books for Our Children, 217 East 85th Street, Suite 184, New York, NY 10028.
This organization sells African American storybooks. A 25% discount is given for
schools, churches, community groups, and libraries.
Children's Book Press, 1339 61st Street, Emeryville, CA 94608.
A nonprofit organization founded in 1975 because of the lack of multicultural children's
books. It carries folktales and contemporary stories from minority and new immigrant
cultures: Latino, Mexican American, African American, Southeast Asian, Asian
American, Native American, and Eastern European.
Colorful World, 10310 Main Street, Suite 306, Fairfax, VA 22030.
This organization offers products which it believes will help children embrace their own
rich cultural heritage as well as the cultural heritage and diversity of others. It carefully
evaluates each product listed in the catalog to ensure the presence of a multicultural,
developmental, and/or educational theme. The organization sells books, audio tapes,
compact disks, video tapes, toys, games, craft kits, cards, and charts.
Everyone's Kids Books, 71 Elliott Street, Brattleboro, VT 05301.
This organization offers nonsexist, multiracial children's books. It looks for books that
teach creative, peaceful conflict resolution, helps kids appreciate the value of diversity
among people and in nature, has nonsexist language and messages, helps kids feel
empowered and motivated to build a more just world, and stories are set in all kinds of
homes, neighborhoods, and cultures.
Just Girls Book Club
This organization has an on-line catalog which features fiction and nonfiction books with
girls as the main characters. Titles are organized around different themes or topics, such
as Black History Month or the American Revolution.
Oyate, 2702 Mathews Street, Berkeley, CA 94702.
A Native organization focusing on portraying Native Americans honestly. They evaluate
texts, resource materials, and fiction by and about Native peoples and distribute
children's, young adult, teacher resources, with an emphasis on writing and illustrating by
Annotated bibliography list