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.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nappy Hair

Title: Nappy Hair
Author: Carolivia Herron
Illustrator: Joe Cepeda
Grade level: Preschool-third grade

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Summary: Nappy Hair is a perfect book for a read aloud. The book was entirely written in the African American traditional story telling and song. The rhythm and vibrant colors of the book will engage children's attention. The book is based on a true story about the author's hair texture and heritage. Brenda's hair is different from the rest of her family's hair. Everyone at the family picnic has something to say about her hair. Although it may seem that her family is making fun of her nappy hair, they are actually admiring the true beauty and meaning of her hair. The illustrator does a remarkable job depicting Brenda's heritage in the story. The spoken style of call and response between her family makes the book interesting and funny.

Element 1: Self-Love and Knowledge: I think this book does a good job summing up what element one really means. The author incorporates various themes such as: pride, sense of self, cultural diversity, and family into her book. She also emphasizes the importance of these themes. Although this book is about Brenda's hair other children can identify themselves with the main character in the story. Brenda's uncle praises her for being the only one in their family who can speak Standard English. At the family gathering Brenda learns about both the history and significance of her hair. Brenda's family celebrates her traditional hair. At the end of the story Brenda feels proud about both her hair and culture.

Activity: One activity that young children can do in their classroom after listening to the story is to create a self portrait. Children can draw a picture of his/her family's hair. In small groups they will compare and contrast their family's hair. They will then have a class discussion about the diverse types of hair in their classroom.
For older children a good activity would be for them to create a song about a family gathering they recently attended. In their song they must talk about: the different types of hair in their family, the food, music, and any other activities they witness during their family event.

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