None of us are born social justice warriors. But some of us start a bit farther away than others. Eleanor Roosevelt eventually stood up for the rights of minorities, but she was known to make racist or anti-Semitic comments before she really got to know members of these groups. That –right there– is the reason why teaching about diversity and social justice is so important. We often do not trust or care for those we don’t know. Meeting and learning about people who do not look, love, or pray the way that we do can make us more respectful and empathetic people.
In Ilene Cooper’s Eleanor Roosevelt: Fighter for Justice, we come along on Eleanor’s journey towards justice. We meet the people who challenged her thinking and led her to consider the outcomes of policy decisions made by those in her husband’s administration. Eleanor rarely hesitated to make her views clear to her husband and even after his death, she continued to advise future presidents.
The one thing missing from the book that older readers might benefit from learning about is Eleanor’s relationship with Lorena Hickok. This would be a perfect book to share with upper elementary students who are interested in this period of history or in the ways that various first ladies approached the role.
Justice 14: I know that life is easier for some people and harder for others based on who they are and where they were born.
Justice 15: I know about the actions of people and groups who have worked throughout history to bring more justice and fairness to the world.
RI.3- Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
RI.8- Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.