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 6, 2012

A Bad Case of Stripes

A Bad Case of Stripes

Author: David Shannon
Illustrator: David Shannon
Reading Level: Ages 5 and up; Kindergarten

A Bad Case of Stripes is about a little girl named Camilla Cream and her struggle to gain self-love and confidence in being herself. Camilla loves lima beans, but she is too embarrassed to eat them in front of her friends because they all hate them. Camilla was so concerned about fitting in that she picked up the unfortunate ability to change colors at the will of her peers. Neither Camilla's parents or any of the expert doctors could figure out a solution. Eventually, an old woman offered the transforming Camilla some of her favorite lima beans. She couldn't stop thinking about how good those lima beans would taste, especially after all she had been through; so, she admitted to liking them and ate every last one. All of a sudden, Camilla transformed back into a "normal" little girl. Camilla was never quite the same after that. She ate lima beans in front of whoever she wanted and was proud to be her "lima bean loving" self.

Element 1: Self-Love and Knowledge
A Bad Case of Stripes portrays the common issue of "fitting in" and having self-confidence amongst peers in elementary school. I relate this topic to self-love and knowledge because it is important for children to embrace themselves for their differences just as much as for their similarities. It would be impossible to have respect for others and their cultures (needed for Element 2) without first respecting your own culture and having self-pride. Camilla Cream experienced a very colorful, and somewhat scary, adventure in order to gain self-love and knowledge. In the end, Camilla learned that being herself made her special; she embraced the real Camilla and never had a bad case of stripes again. Overall, this book opens the door for early elementary students to begin exploring their own families, cultures, and histories by illustrating the fundamental thought--everyone is special in their own way.

Classroom Use:
This book is a great resource for Kindergarten students. Teachers can read it in the beginning of the year to stress that all students are different in a positive way. As reading extensions, teachers can ask students to talk about times they have felt like the "odd man out." Conversely, they can ask students to share a unique fact about themselves in order to promote self-love and knowledge. Teachers can also get creative by inviting students to create self portraits in which students decorate their portrait with personal hobbies or cultural activities that define them. By displaying these portraits, students can show off their new self-love and knowledge and segue into Element 2 of social justice.

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