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 18, 2013
Giraffes Can't Dance
Illustrator: Guy Parker-Rees
Grade Level: K-5
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Summary: This book is about a giraffe named Gerald who wishes he could dance in the Jungle Dance which takes place each year. Gerald claims that he can't dance because his legs are too long, his neck is too long and slim and his knees are crooked. All of the animals such as the warthogs, rhinos, lions, chimps and baboons can dance but Gerald can't. Gerald gets made fun of when he shows up to the Jungle Dance and all of the other animals make fun of him for being weird and clumsy. Gerald is hurt and upset from the animals making fun of him, until he meets a cricket who is happy to help Gerald learn to dance.
Element 2: This book relates to element two because although it is referring to animals, each animals dance refers to a different culture. The baboons do a Scottish dance, the chimps do the cha-cha, the lions do the tango, and the rhinos do a rock-n-roll dance. This book draws in the different cultures with the different dances that the animals are representing as well as tying in respect for diversity because Gerald is considered to be different from his peers based off of his appearance and is judged because according to the other animals, giraffes can't dance. The ending of the book helps to show students that they should not judge someone based off of their appearance or how others may view them and to respect everyone for who they are.
Activity: I would first read this book out loud to the students so they could listen to the story. Then I would read the story again and draw on the different dances that the animals did and ask the students if any of them have heard of the dances before from their family members. I would incorporate the different cultures that are being represented in the story and have the students learn about them. I would also then follow up the activity by having each student draw a picture of them self and discuss with the class why they choose to represent them self that way. This would be good for the class to see that not everyone is the same because each persons drawing is different. I would then have an open discussion with the students and talk to them about being respectful towards others and to not judge someone based off of their appearance or how others may judge them.