Who I AM not what I am!
Author: Tara Michener
Illustrator: Jessica Angerstein
Grade Level: K-3 | Age Range: 5-8
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What's It All About/Summary: Janelle is a six year old, bi-racial, kindergarten girl. Upon entering Kindergarten, she encounters classmates who are confused about "what" she is because she looks different. Because of this she is ridiculed a bit, but she is also embraced by many other students. By speaking with her parents, she goes on to learn that she is bi-racial, but that does not make her "who" she is; it merely means she's "more than one color mixed together". "What" she is can be described by her characteristics and personality. Read the book to find out just what she is!
Social Justice Element: Element 2: Respect for Others
Tara Michener's book represents SJE2 because the main character, Janelle, takes the time to tell us what makes her "different" from her classmates - race. She realizes that although this makes her different, it does not define what she is. She can only define what she is through her actions, characteristics, and personality. The character teaches us to appreciate where we are from, as well as teaching us that our multicultural diversity does not define who, nor what, we are as people. We should love ourselves for the full picture.
Using this Book in My Classroom: This book is great for getting to know our classmates and what defines them. It allows for learning about our classmates on a more profound level. It could be used in conjunction with similar themed books to motivate students to talk about where they are from and what they are interested in. These books would help students to better understand and appreciate not only their own, but also their classmates' cultures. The books would serve as introduction to a lesson. After reading the books in small, culturally diverse groups, students could work on various activities that celebrate their cultures and what makes them "them" such as "Who I Am" poems. In creating these poems, students would feel compelled to speak about their cultures and their defining characteristics among their groups.