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, February 18, 2014

Why Am I Different?

Title of Book: Why Am I Different?
Author: Norma Simon
Illustrator: Dora Leder
Grade Level: Kindergarten-1st grade
Reading Level: 5-7 year olds
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Why Am I Different? By Norma Simon is about how children are born to want to be the same as others but in reality being different is desirable.  This book starts out with differences children have from losing teeth, growing up, to what a family means to them and even how being different is having a food allergy.  The book explains everyday ways in which children view themselves as different but they are okay with being different and actually like being different.  The story is told from a first person perspective but does not follow one specific character.  Instead the author tells the story through many different voices and their stories on being different.  In addition, the author incorporates questions for the teacher throughout the book to take the time to ask his/her own class which is very appealing.

Element 1: Self-Love and Knowledge
This book is a great example of element 1 because it touches base with how people are different and it’s okay to be different.  The book explains that people come from many different families and backgrounds and how the characters in the book love some aspects of this and also don’t like some aspects of this, which is normal.  This book allows students to connect with the characters because it clearly addresses many different characteristics from appearance to food allergies that might be deemed as different.  I believe this book is a great way to show self-love and knowledge because students many not have heard of such “differences” and through this book will be able to gain the knowledge to accept themselves and their peers.

Follow-Up Activity:
In addition to reading this book to the class the teacher can make this into a fun activity by having the students create a book all about themselves.  The teacher can have the students describe everything they like about themselves and also what they don’t like about themselves, as the book portrays both sides.  They can be as detailed as they would like to be and also would be encouraged to illustrate their books.  The students can share their books with the class if they want to or keep their books in the class library for students to read at their pleasure.

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