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.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

All Families Are Special

Author: Norma Simon
Illustrator: Teresa Flavin
Grade Level: K-2

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All Families Are Special is appropriate for grade levels K-2. This book is set in a classroom. The teacher, Mrs. Mack, is explaining to the class that her daughter is having a baby and she is going to be a grandmother! She uses this as a segue, and invites all the children in class to talk about their families. Each child explains the type of family they come from. Some of the children live in two-parent families, single-parent families, blended families, divorced families, foster families, same-sex parent families, and so on. In the end, Mrs. Mack explains that no matter what type of family you live in, each family is special in their own unique way.

Element 2:

All Families Are Special is a story that demonstrates to children that even though we all come from different types of families, we should celebrate and embrace these differences. This book teaches children that each family has its own distinctive set of strengths and challenges that we can all learn from. All Families Are Special creates a forum where children can begin to feel comfortable opening up about their own family dynamics and helps to create a sense of unity and acceptance among each child in class, leading to mutual respect for each other. I really appreciated that the book also includes children from many different cultures, further leading to an acceptance of diversity in the classroom.


I would first begin by reading All Families Are Special to the class. We would then discuss and define the word family and what that word means to them. For homework, I would ask the students to each draw a picture of their families doing their favorite activity together. The next day, I would break the students into equal groups and have them each share their pictures with each other. I would have a space open in the classroom where we could post our definition of family, and hang up the children’s pictures on display. This would be a great activity to complete early in the year to help each student get to know each other on a deeper level and break down any stereotypes, creating a classroom climate of respect and empathy of each other’s differences. 

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