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.

Friday, February 15, 2013

It's Okay to Be Different

Author:  Todd Parr
Grade Level: Preschool - First Grade

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Summary:  This book shows a variety of different individuals with different characteristics from their hair color, skin color, to any habits they may have.  Before each characteristic that is named, the author makes sure to put the phrase "It's okay to..."  which reassures children that there is nothing wrong with these differences.  The purpose of this book is to show children that each and every person is unique in their own way and that it is okay to be different from those around you and to accept everyone for who they are.

Element:  This book relates to element 2 because it provides an opportunity to learn about the differences children will encounter when socializing with their peers.  It also helps children to learn to respect that there are people who look, talk, or act different than them.  This book approaches this element in a kind and even comical manner and lightens the mood when educating younger children about diversity.   

Activity:  I would use this book in my classroom for a Social Studies lesson to introduce different cultures and ethnicities of the world.  I would read this out loud to the children before the lesson. This would be a good way to introduce the theme of diversity in order to avoid any judgmental comments about cultures they may have never heard about or do not understand.  Aside from this lesson, this book would also build a comfortable learning environment where children from all different backgrounds may feel comfortable and feel that they are respected.    

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