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 11, 2013

We All Have A Heritage

Author: Sandy Lynn Holman

Illustrator: Lela Kometiani

Grade Level: Pre-School through Grade 2

Buy it here!

Resource 1

Resource 2

Summary: We All Have a Heritage by Sandy Lynn Holman is an effective way to introduce cultural awareness to young children in classrooms.  This book enables children to become familiar with the fact that each and every person has their own individual identities.  From the beginning of the book the idea that we all come from different cultures with varying traditions is consistently conveyed not just through the book's powerful message but also through the wonderful illustrations which display an array of diverse cultures.  The book encourages children to want to learn about their individual heritages and also demonstrates the idea that each culture has many things to offer which is why we should be proud of where we come from.  

Element 1 - Self-love and Knowledge: We All Have a Heritage fits the self-love and knowledge element of social justice in many ways.  The book informs children that everyone has a different heritage which will help them to become excited and motivate them to want to learn more about where their family comes from.  Once they start to realize that each and every one of their classmates also has their own heritage which is conveyed in this book, students will begin to recognize that having their own traditions within their cultures is something that makes them unique and not something that they should be embarrassed about.  This book encourages students to seek information about their cultures which is where the knowledge aspect ties in.  The book also displays a strong message to children that they should be proud of where they come from which is how the self-love piece of this element is related.  Once students learn about their cultures and become familiar with their traditions, they can then begin to share their diversities with their classmates which will ultimately enable them to love themselves for who they are and where they come from.  

Activity: In an effort to help children fulfill the self-love and knowledge element of social justice education, this book can be implemented in the classroom through using the following activity:  

1.) Assess students' prior knowledge about heritage, culture, ethnicity/race, religion, etc.  
2.) Read the book to the entire class pointing out the various cultures displayed through the illustrations
3.) Assign a project called "We All Have A Heritage, And Mine is...." to the students (which should be brought home).  Students should be asked to make a poster filled with different information about their heritage and where they come from
4.) Students will share their poster with their classmates and are allowed to bring in traditional food or do a dance which is learned in their cultures
5.) Have a whole group discussion about interesting things that the students have learned after hearing about each others' cultures (make sure to keep a checklist to ensure that every student hears one thing that their classmates thought was interesting about them)

This activity will build on the students' knowledge about their own cultures because they will have to ask their family to teach them about where they came from and by sharing with their classmates, this will help them to retain what they learned about their cultures.  Also, by making individualized posters and having the students share their traditional food or dances with the class, this will help to promote self-love and ultimately will help the entire class gain appreciation for where they came from and where others come from as well.  

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