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, September 30, 2013

Giraffes Can't Dance

Giraffes Can’t Dance


Title: Giraffes Can’t Dance 
Author: Giles Andreae
Illustrated by: Guy Parker-Rees
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Publisher: Orchard Books



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Summary:
Giraffes Can’t Dance  is a delightful children’s picture book that teaches about individuality, perseverance, and  how it is ok to be different. The book is about a giraffe named Gerald who can’t dance very well. Every year in Africa they hold the jungle dance and Gerald felt sad because he knew he couldn't dance. The other animals made fun of Gerald, and as he left the dance feeling humiliated, he stumbled upon a compassionate cricket that told him that he has to dance to his own music. Through the crickets advice, Gerald listened to the nature sounds around him and before he knew it he was dancing like a professional. The other animals were astonished at how beautifully Gerald danced.  Through lively and animated illustrations, this book delivers a wonderful message about finding the music that moves you. This book will give children a roller coaster of well-balanced emotions. They will feel sad, happy and compassionate and will leave with a great lesson learned. They will learn to accept their own individuality and dance freely to the music of their own confidence.
                                                                                                               
Element #1 Self-Love and Knowledge:
Giraffes Can’t Dance: Reinforces the self-love and knowledge element because it teaches children about finding their own rhythm. It encourages them to keep trying. It sends a wonderful message about not giving up even though people around them may discourage them. With the right support, in this case in the form of a friendly cricket, they can learn to find a way to believe in themselves and pierce through the negativity and just let go and believe in themselves. Children will benefit greatly from this story because it will teach them that they can shine in anything they put their minds to even if at first it appears that they can’t.

Follow-Up Activity:
Giraffes Can’t Dance can be a wonderful tool to teach children about individuality. Teachers can hold in class discussions about how Gerald’s feelings when he was mocked for not knowing how to dance. Teachers can then have the students discuss events when they felt they couldn't do something, and how they felt when they found out they actually could when they believed in themselves.
Lastly teachers can encourage students to talk about what dances are special in their own culture and ask students to draw or find pictures associated with these dances. Parents can get involved too by speaking to their children about traditional dances in their culture and teaching their children about them. Then students can share their final projects with the class and everyone will learn something new!


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