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

The Story of Ferdinand

Title: The Story of Ferdinand
Author: Munro Leaf
Illustrator: Robert Lawson
Grade Level: Pre-K - 2nd 

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The Story of Ferdinand is a children’s book about a peaceful bull named Ferdinand who lives in Spain and would rather sit under a tree quietly in the shade and smell flowers than fight in bullfights. Ferdinand is viewed as a big and strong bull but instead of “leaping, snorting, and butting heads” like the other bulls, Ferdinand is content with sitting under his favorite cork tree and smell the flowers. This book has an important message of being happy with who you are. It encourages readers of all ages to do what makes them happy. In addition to the simple black and white illustrations and easy language, The Story of Ferdinand includes an assumption and stereotype people might make and persuades readers to choose serenity over fierceness.

Element 1: Self-Love and Knowledge:
The Story of Ferdinand represents Element 1: Self-Love and Knowledge by showing children that ‘you should not judge a book by its cover’. This book tries to eliminate all stereotypes about judging a person or in this case a bull, by their appearance. Ferdinand was illustrated to be this big, strong, and scary bull but in reality he was the sweetest and most peaceful bull that did not want to fight. The characteristics of a bull are all frightening but this book proves that it is not what it seems and you should not assume things about someone until you get to know them. Someone’s exterior does not mirror his or her interior.

Activity: A great activity to go along after reading The Story of Ferdinand to the class would be to have each child in room talk about and discuss something that makes them special and happy. Then each child could draw what makes them happy and present it to their classmates when they are finished. This activity will encourage students to acknowledge each other’s differences and the things that make them happy. Then each student could draw something that they perceive to be big and strong to them and as a class we would go around the room and talk about all the good qualities of the animal rather than concentrating on the negative aspects. This will teach the children to not judge someone by their appearance and to look at the positives and good qualities in a person rather than the negatives. 

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