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, September 8, 2008

What a Family!

What a Family!

Summary: Ollie, a red-head with freckles, is the shortest one in his kindergarten class. Frustrated, he talks to grandpa Max who tells Ollie about his brother Winthrop who looked a lot like Ollie today. Ollie goes on naming just about everyone in his family and how they look like.


Rachel Isadora wrote and illustrated "What A Family!" Faces of characters on each page look so real~ She really celebrates similarity and differences in the family. On the front and back, there is a family tree allowing one to figure out Ollie's first, second cousins and so on (very cute). Student of different backgrounds could feel drawn to the book because if the interesting family tree. Ollie's grandparents are white, but as the tree moves down, Black, Hispanic, and Asian uncles and aunts join the family to create interracial family tree. It is soooo possible for this to happen in real life too!!

Some things I appreciated-
1. Asian characters did not have the typical small eyes
2. Black characters did not have the typical flat nose
3. White characters had not only blond hair, but red, brown, freckles, and many other attributes besides "blond blue eyes"

This is a fun book to figure out first, second (once/twice removed) cousins!


I would use this book for....

*Family Study
-drawing family tree
-understanding who's in my family
-different make-up of family (one family's dad passed away)

The book allows students to have a "FRESH LOOK AT FAMILY TREES"-
but, there should be a better book about family. I recommend this book because of great illustration showing different races.


1. SELF-LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE: Students appreciate their family
2. RESPECT FOR OTHERS: Through family studies, students learn differences of others' families.
3. EXPLORING ISSUES OF SOCIAL JUSTICE: Students are now aware about inter-racial families.
4. SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND SOCIAL CHANGE: Students could learn that in U.S. even around 40-50 years ago, different races could not even like each other because of racism. But people fought for equality.
5. TAKING SOCIAL ACTION: mmm, not sure.... what can my students do about this part? suggestions anyone???

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