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.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Egyptian Cinderella

Title: The Egyptian Cinderella
Author: Shirley Climo
Illustrator: Ruth Heller

The Egyptian Cinderella is a new and different cultural take on the classic Cinderella fairy tale. Rhodopis is the Cinderella in this story. She has no mother or father. From Greece originally, she was sold as a slave to Egypt. The Egyptian servant girls look down upon her because she is different. They all have straight black hair, brown eyes, and tan skin while Rhodopis has green eyes, tangled hair, and rosy skin from the sun. The Egyptian servant girls make fun of her and force her to do more work than she has to. Rhodopis has a talent in dancing and her master sees that one-day. He decides to buy her new beautiful shoes that are perfect for dancing. The Pharaoh of Egypt comes across one of her shoes when a falcon has stolen it and dropped it in front of him. He is determined to find the owner. He finds Rhodopis and the Egyptian servants are angry proclaiming that she is not Egyptian and therefore cannot be with the Pharaoh. The prince sees past the differences and says, “She is the most Egyptian of all…For her eyes are as green as the Nile, her hair as feathery as papyrus, and her skin the pink of a lotus flower.” The Pharaoh and Rhodopis are then married.

Element three is about exploring the issues of social justice, for instance, racism. This book shows racism from the Egyptian servant girls. They did not take kindly to Rhodopis because she looked different than they. When it came to the master and the Pharaoh, they were able to look past the appearances and differences and accept Rhodopis for who she was not what color skin she had. This book can show students that racism is not only in America it is a global issue. In class, especially a first grade or kindergarten class, we can do an activity that seems simple but sends a strong message. The teacher can print out blank faces on pieces of paper and have each child draw and color their own portrait. Once the portraits are finished, the teacher would hang them on a board in the classroom. This shows children that we are all different in our own ways and our skin color does not matter.

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