Be Boy Buzz by Bell Hooks and Chris Raschka
This is a wonderful book about an energetic little boy who has a deep appreciation for all aspects of himself. The language used in the book is beautifully arranged in a poetic manner, which makes the story both easier to read for younger kids and able to be interpreted on different levels depending on the reader. There is a natural rhythm to the text - you can feel the energy coming out of this boy. The book does not follow a typical story line (there is no conflict or resolution), however it does drive home a major point: love yourself and be proud of who you are. This boy in particular is VERY proud of being a boy. He loves to run and jump, talk and be quiet. He knows that he is beautiful. He is loved by someone and does not want to be let down by that person. He loves to dream big. He doesn't mind being alone. The language used in the book is definitely not perfect english, which allows for different interpretations of the text. I also think that it is important for kids to see that not EVERYthing they write must be written in the traditional way - sometimes it's best to write "freestyle" - which is very much what this book is. The illustrations match the text - simple and somewhat abstract yet easy to understand. Overall, Be Boy Buzz is a poem about a little boy who is proud to be himself and through reading this book, he encourages others to be proud of themselves, too.
How to use it in the classroom:
1. This book is perfect for modeling a type of writing used mostly in poetry: free style. I think it would be a great tool to use in a poetry unit when discussing different types. Kids often think that poetry means certain things: it has to rhyme, look a certain way, follow a certain pattern, etc. It's important for kids to see that poetry does not have to be any of those things - it can be words that flow from your mind that convey a certain meaning written down on paper.
2. This book could also be used when students are working on their self-portraits. The text in this book acts as a sort of self-portrait through words, while the illustrations depict the actual image of the boy. Students could model this book by pairing their illustrated self-portrait with a written self-portrait (possibly in the style of this book).
3. This book also would be a great tool to use in order to promote self-love and respect for one another.
Domains of Social Justice:
1. Self-Love and Acceptance: The character in this book loves himself and everything about himself, and it is very obvious. This is the strongest aspect of the book.
2. Respect for Others: Through respect for oneself, we can learn about having respect for others. This book certainly speaks to that and could act as a platform from which to jump into a discussion on respecting others.
3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: I actually just realized this now, but this book could actually be used to have a conversation about the "typical" gender roles that boys and girls notice in our society and how they feel about them. The boy in this book is a typical boy in many ways (he runs, jumps, has a lot of energy, etc.) Students could explore issues of sexism through this book (why isn't this boy shown playing with dolls, is it fair that this book is just about boys, etc.).