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.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Why Am I Different?

Element 2: Respect For Others
Title: Why Am I Different?
Author: Norma Simon
Pictures by: Dora Leder
Ages: 4 to 8

Summary: The book highlights individual differences among children. The children measure differences between their friends, by comparing height, hair color, place in the family, and preferences. At first they question why they are different from their friends. Eventually, they realize that there are reasons for some of their differences and that some differences exist for no aparent reason. At the end of the story, the children realize that if we were all the same then everything would be boring.
SJE: Why I Am Different represents my element "Respect For Others" being it explores differences of people in our world, paving the way for respect of each individual. The book displays parents having different types of jobs, regardless of their sex. For example, a woman is shown as mail carrier and a man is cooking. The story reinforces that our mothers and fathers may do different types of work that might not be typical for them. This exemplifies how people are respected regardless of who they are and what they do for a living in society. The book displays children doing different activites. It states, "You draw better pictures than I do. I can write better than you. That's how I'm different." This enhances self respect since each child is good at something different. Everyboday has their own gift.
Activity: The students will make a side by side illustration of themselves and a friend or family member. They will then compare the differences between them and the other person. Then the students will then share the differences with the class.
How would you use this book: I would use this book to explain to my class that everyone is different in their own unique ways. I would explain what it is to be diverse and how children grow up with different ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds which enhance their lives. The students would be able to express how it feels to be different from their friends and show respect for their friends' differences.

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