CHILDREN’S SOCIAL JUSTICE BOOK
Bombs exploding everywhere, Syria is a war zone. Many Syrians scared for their lives on a day-to-day basis. This was the reality of a family living in Syria trying to escape the madness. Stepping Stones, A Refugee Family’s Journey, by Margriet Ruurs is a great example of a children’s social justice book. The unique artwork by Nizar Ali Badr using rocks to design all his people and the settings in all his pictures really made it interesting and it is something I have never seen before. I also found it really unique that the story was written in both Arabic and English. Stepping Stones, A Refugee Family’s Journey is a story about a family who is forced to move out of their village due to war. The journey of the family is told through one of the kids who is a girl and her name is Rama. Rama loved where she lived and did not want to leave her home. She had so many childhood memories there and she knew that she would never be back in her village again. Rama knew it was for the best. They leave their village in search for freedom along with many other Syrian refugees. The journey to freedom was very long and not every person survived on this journey. Rama and her family were not just physically strong, they were mentally strong also which drove them to freedom. The family was very lucky and succeeded to find safety and new, better life. When they reached the new country, people welcomed the family in open arms.
Using Stepping Stones, A Refugee Family’s Journey is a great story to use as a teaching lesson for younger kids in the classroom. You could use this story as a teaching lesson by teaching students that we are a multicultural society in Canada. Like Rama and her family, there are many people who come from all over the world to live in Canada. As a country, we are very accepting or diverse and teaching kids that we are a multicultural society at a young age is crucial. We have to be accepting to other people’s race and where they come from. By doing that, it can strengthen our future as a country. This book is a great teaching lesson because it notifies kids about other parts of the world and some of the daily life threatening struggles that other people have to go through like war. Telling kids how lucky they are to live where they are and not in life threatening country and telling kids to respect other people who are from different countries because you do not know what other people have been through.
Before explaining what the students should have actually taken from this story, I would read the story aloud to the kids and have them discuss in small groups what their thoughts were about the story and let them express their opinions to one another. I think it is important to have lots of discussion in class especially about cultures, diversity and what some people have to go through. After they discuss with one another what they thought about the book and what the book was about, I would have a member from each group tell me what they thought of the book and explain why that opinion came to their head. Another way I would incorporate or teach this book in a class lesson is read the book to the students and then hand them a sheet of questions and ask them the questions out loud and see what the students wrote down for their answers. They can use the paper of questions for notes to help them study.
Stepping Stones, A Refugee Family’s Journey, was a pretty short book and it is an easy read. I think the story is intended for grades four to six. Like I said before, it is a pretty easy read but the meaning behind the words is much deeper than the simple writing it is in. I think that kids in grades four to six would understand the content that is being displayed in the story. You could definitely use this for higher grades for teaching purposes.
Reading Stepping Stones, A Refugee Family’s Journey, really emphasized how important it is to teach kids to have respect for people from different countries. We have to treat people equal. This story is a really good teaching tool that can be used in all classrooms to help create open minded children and it is a good way to start talks about racism. Being mindful of people is one of the easiest things to do. This book should be in every classroom as it is a great teaching tool.
Ruurs, M., Badr, N. A., & Ruurs, M. (2017). Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey. St Lucia, Queensland: University of Queensland Press.