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.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Skin I'm In

Title: The Skin I'm In
Author: Pat Thomas
Illustrator: Lesley Harker
Grade Level: 3rd Grade

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Summary: The Skin I'm In shows us various ways in which we can be different from one another. Illustrations throughout the book show many different people smiling and cooperating with each other. The author includes two "What about you?" sections that ask the reader for their family background as well as their opinion on racism and how it makes them feel. Through doing this, I felt that the author made the issue of racism strike home. I would think that after answering the questions, readers would think of somebody in their life that may have been affected by this and realize even more how wrong it is. Overall, this book teaches us to stay away from racism and appreciate the differences amongst people.

Element 1: Throughout the book, examples of different ethnicities, cultures, religions, and skin colors are shown. As students read they notice several differences people can have between them, yet despite these differences, students still see illustrations that show everybody cooperating together. The message the author and illustrator convey to the reader is one that teaches equality and self-appreciation. It shows us that it's okay to be different because well, everybody is.

Activity: An activity that I thought would be an appropriate follow up to this book would be an open discussion on the topic of prejudices. It doesn't have to necessarily be on racial/ethnic prejudices - perhaps the teacher could talk with the students about different types of prejudices that exist within our world; whether it be racial, gender, religious, cultural or age related prejudices. For example, the teacher could ask students of some age related prejudices that they experience themselves to get the discussion started. From there, the class could dive into other areas that experience prejudice. At the end of the discussion the teacher could ask students to write a few paragraphs on what they had learned.

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