Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Whoever You Are

Title: Whoever You Are
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrated by: Leslie Staub
Reading level: Ages 3-7
Publisher: First Voyager Books (Edition 2001); Harcourt, Inc.
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    Who You Are is a children's picture book written about the different physical features people have around the world, but the similar emotions they all share together. This book explains that although people's skin color, types of school or home life, language and many other characteristics may be completely different than the individual characteristics we each have, inside of each and every person we all share the same emotions of love, happiness, hurt and sadness. Who You Are explains to young children that "wherever they are, whoever you are, wherever we are, all over the world" our emotions make us all similar despite our different exterior qualities.

Element #2-Respect for Others:
Whoever You Are is a great representation of showing respect for other people, geared toward young children, for two main reasons. The first reason is that each page in this book is filled with vivid graphics of different cultures around the world. These images give children the opportunity to identify with a picture in the book and notice other children in their class who look like other people in the illustrations. The children can also see on a few pages that the people in the book are acknowledging and appreciating each other for who they are and not what they look like. The second reason this book represents respect for others is that the words explain that we are all unique individuals, but no matter what part of the world we are from we all feel emotions; we all experience getting hurt or being happy. This explanation of similarities between cultures should hopefully encourage a learning environment of students who are open and aware of their differences, but also appreciative and respectful of each other as well.

Follow-Up Activity:
In order to reinforce the lesson of respect for other cultures taught in this book, an activity could be planned relating to the different images depicted on each page. Students can look through the book and choose a culture, different than their own, that they are interested in. Students should then spend time researching their selected culture (finding out about the language, clothing, and customs). Then based on their findings each student will create a culture doll (click here for materials). Once the students have finished their dolls, they can each share what they learned about their selected culture and what similarities they noticed. This lesson should enforce respect for diversity and encourage interest in their peers identities.

Click here for another great review of the book!

And another great review of the book!

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