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, October 1, 2013

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin

Author : Duncan Tonatiuh
Grade Level: Preschool- 3

Buy it Here!!
Others by Duncan Tonatiuh 

Summary :

Dear Primo:  A Letter to My Cousin is about two cousins, Charlie and Carlitos.  Charlie lives in America and his cousin Carlitos lives in Mexico.  Since they've never met they decide to write letters to each other back and forth describing their different lifestyles. In the letters the boys mention what they do for fun, what types of foods they eat, their form of transportation, and many other topics about their different settings and upbringings.  Although, Charlie and Carlitos have different lifestyles they realize that at heart they are very similar. This book introduces the thought that no matter how different two people can be they may have more in common than what it seems. The book has great illustrations and labels many of the characteristics from the Mexican culture in Spanish which is a great form of introducing a different culture and language to the children. 

Element 1- Self-Love and Knowledge 

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin is a book that promotes the idea for children to be open about their culture and to embrace it. When the boys were writing the letters to each other, they were learning about their different upbringings and backgrounds. The illustrations do a great job in portraying both Mexico and America, from the different settings to the different forms of transportation.  The book also translates many of the elements that portray the Mexican culture in Spanish.  This book is helpful to introduce Element 1 because it promotes the acceptance of one’s culture, race, and ethnicity and the opportunity to share it with others. 

Classroom Activity: To further the lesson on Element 1 you can integrate the following activity with the children. 

After reading the book with the children you can come up with an on-going project where each child will create their own self-collage and present it to the class. The collage will include different aspects that define their culture and where they come from.  The children will be free to get creative with pictures, phrases, and anything else that the children would like to share with the class about their culture. 

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