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.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Everyone Matters: A First Look at Respect for Others

Everyone Matters: A First Look at Respect for Others (First Look At...Series)
Author:  Pat Thomas
Illustrator:  Lesley Harker
Grade Level:  Preschool - Second Grade

To view all books by this author of A First Look at...Series, click here!
  These books promote positive interaction among children.

Click here to learn more about the author of Everyone Matters.

Everyone Matters is a children’s picture book about the meaning of the word “respect.”  From the beginning it states that “respect” is a little word but has a very big meaning.  This book shows children that respect means to value the worth of other people as much as we value ourselves, treating people equally despite the fact they might look different from us.  It shows that people should focus on how people are alike and not to worry much about the ways in which people are different.  Everyone Matters also discusses that there are some types of respect that each person must earn for themselves--by keeping promises, by being honest in what they say and do, and being polite and respectful to others.  No matter what size you are, color of your skin, handicap you have, respect always makes you feel that you are as important as anyone else.  Everyone Matters also points out that even though you may disagree with someone else, you should try and understand why they believe why they think or believe something.  Everyone has an equal right to their opinion.  Lastly, Everyone Matters states that adults and children need to work on respect every single day in order for the world to be a happier place to work, play and live together.

Element 2:
Everyone Matters is a great book that shows respect for others (Element 2).  The book takes the definition of respect and brings it into the children’s everyday lives.  The illustrations show children of all colors, shapes and sizes showing respect on the playground, school, home, subway, during a town flood, passing a homeless person on the street and talking to a girl in a wheel chair.  It states that respect is more than being nice to others; it means that we need to realize that no matter how someone looks, we are all equal.  A great quote in the book demonstrates this element best, “Most of the differences between human beings are one we can see with our eyes. What makes us alike are the things we feel in our hearts.”

Schools and classrooms are ideal places to help teach respect, tolerance of differences, and appreciation for diversity.  An activity that a teacher can do is to conduct a read-aloud of Everyone Matters.  The teacher can form groups in which children of different backgrounds are working together.  As a group, the students can brainstorm on what respect means and doesn’t mean.  What kinds of behavior can be considered disrespectful?  The groups would then share with the class as a whole.  To further promote respecting differences, the teacher can ask students to bring in a snack or an activity from their culture to share with the group.  After everyone had a turn, ask if any student identified things that other students like but they do not like.  This discussion is a good way to show that although you may have difference of opinions, you should treat each other respectfully.

Since parents are children’s first role models and teachers, I would also photocopy the book and send it home for the parents to read with their children.  This will further reinforce the element of respect for others.

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