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

How My Family Lives in America

Title: How My Family Lives in America
Author: Susan Kuklin
Reading Level: Ages 4-7

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Similar to this book, click here to view another book that celebrates different cultures.


Susan Kuklin follows the daily lives of three culturally diverse children, Sanu, Eric, and April. Each of these children have at least one parent who did not grow up in America. By merging two different cultures in the household, Sanu, Eric, and April practice their parent's old traditions as well as creating new ones. Kuklin talks about each child's story individually. She tells us where their parent is from as well as the different names the families call each other in their ethnic language. She also describes the families daily routines. Whether it is shopping for dinner or praying to a guardian angel, each family has their own cultural practices. Kuklin tells us about special traditions practiced in each of the households. From dancing the meringue with friends and family to playing tangrams, each culture has special traditions. At the end of the book Kuklin includes recipes of traditional African, Puerto Rican, and Chinese dishes.

Element #1: Self-love and Knowledge

How My Family Lives in America is a great book that talks about three very different cultures, African, Puerto Rican and Chinese. In this book Kuklin hits almost every aspect of element 1. The children's family traditions teach them the roots of their culture. All three of the children's lives display good knowledge and sense of pride of where they come from. This book can encourage students to learn more about their ethnicity and proudly practice their family's cultural traditions.

Follow up activity: 

To reinforce this sense of pride and knowledge in one's culture, teachers can follow up this book with a "Where I come from" activity. Similar to Bree Picower's "Where I come from" poem, this activity can have children research different languages and clothing of their culture. By merging this with Picower's "Self Portrait" activity, teachers can have students make a self portrait of themselves wearing their culture's traditional clothing. On the same paper students can post words of their culture's language as well as pictures of different foods from their culture. This activity can encourage students to celebrate their ethnicity with their classmates.

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