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, February 19, 2014


Title: One

Author/Illustrator: Kathryn Otoshi

Publisher: KO Kids Books

Grade Level: K-3
Age Range: 4-8


The story One by Kathryn Otoshi is a book that incorporates not only colors and numbers but also sends an important message about bullying and standing up for one another. The book begins by introducing you to Blue, who is a quiet color. Although he is quite, he likes being blue until the big bully Red comes along. Red is a hot color who makes Blue and all the other colors feel bad about themselves, but everyone is to scared to stand up to the big mean bully. This is only until the character One comes along and stands up for himself and all the other colors. One teaches the colors how to be strong and stand up to Red, to show him that everyone, including Red, matter and that "sometimes it just takes One."

Element 2: Respect for Others

The book One relates to the social justice element 2, Respect for Others, because it teaches students the importance of standing up for one another and how to not be a bystander. The book describes how different all the colors are from one another, yet in the end, despite differences, "everyone counts". This book really hones in on brings awareness to students to see differences within each other as a positive quality and instills the overall important message of not only standing up for yourself but also for others in the community as well.

Follow-Up Activity: 

An activity that can be used with this book in the classroom involves two glasses of water and tubes of different color food coloring. While reading the story, place both cups on a table visible for all students to see.  Every time Red says something mean or hurtful to the other colors a drop of red food coloring will be placed in both cups. Every time One or any of the other colors stand up to Red, when he says something mean, you will drop a different color of food coloring into just one of the cups. At the end of the story ask the students to compare the two cups (one cup will be only red and the other will be a mixture of all the different colors, including red). This will represent that when you stand up to a bully that you take away their power and show that they are not the ones in charge. This is a visual way of emphasizing the importance of not being a bystander. After completing this visual and fun activity with the students, you can then ask the students follow up discussion questions about the book and begin to formulate a poster as a class, that titled, "A Great Classmate". This poster will include four columns that say, A Great Classmate... "Is", "Isn't", "Does", Says".  Formulate ideas as a class and write down all suggestions from students. After completing the poster,  hang it up in the classroom as a good resource for the students to refer to in the future as a reminder to do the right thing and make "everyone count."

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