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.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Leo the Late Bloomer

Title: Leo the Late Bloomer
Author: Robert Kraus
Illustrator: Jose Aruego
Grade Level: Pre K - 3

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Resource 1
Resource 2

Summary: Leo the Late Bloomer is a children's book about a young tiger named Leo, who just can't seem to do anything right. He can't write, read, draw, eat, or even talk like the rest of the animals. Leo's father is worried about him and constantly watches him to see if there are any improvements. On the other hand, his mother is not worried at all because she knows he will eventually "bloom" like the rest of the animals. The mother tells the father Leo is simply a late bloomer and the father should not watch him so closely. Once the father stops watching him, Leo slowly "blooms" and can read, write, draw, eat, and even talk like everyone else. The story ends with Leo's last words of "I made it!", indicating his triumph.

Element 1: Self Love and Knowledge: The book Leo the Late Bloomer relates to Element 1: Self-Love and Knowledge through the message it is trying to portray. The whole point of the story is that everyone moves through life at their own pace. There is nothing wrong with you if you are not doing what everyone else is doing. You can just be you and do things your own way and still achieve things like everyone else. In a way, the book is trying to teach it's readers to love themselves just the way they are, no matter how different they may seem from others. The very fact that the book ends with Leo saying, "I've made it!" proves how Leo has acquired knowledge about himself and is in fact very happy with himself.

Activity: Teachers can use this book in their classroom to teach students about themselves and help them gain self-confidence along with self-love. A great activity would be to read this book with them first. Afterwards, give them handouts that starts with the words, "I can" and the rest is left blank for the students to fill out as they wish. Depending on the grade level, they can write down one thing they can do and even draw pictures of it. This activity will be done independently. Following this activity, the teacher can pair the students or put them in groups and ask them to discuss, show, and explain what they can do. Not only would this activity give them a chance to share a piece of themselves with other peers and be proud, but also give them a chance to learn about their peers. The discussion part of this activity will also give them a chance to see individual differences and learn to be respectful towards them. Just like the books message, the students will see for themselves that we are all different and there is nothing wrong with that.

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