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.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Skin I'm In: A First Look At Racism

Author: Pat Thomas
Illustrator: Lesley Harker
Ages: 4 and up (Pre-K and up)

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The Skin I'm In: A First Look At Racism is book that discusses the issue of racism in our world.  The book immediately begins by having the reader imagine a world where only certain types of people receive privileges over others.  Following that, the author informs the reader that everyone has their own culture or race that tells of your family history. This allows the reader to reflect on their own culture, traditions, religion, etc.  It goes on to show that everyone around the world may be very different on the outside but everyone is more alike, beautiful, and from the same family called the human family.  The book then defines what a racist and a bully is and behavior shown by both through pictures and examples.  Afterwards, it discusses how one can make a difference by telling a trusted adult and stand up against racism.  The book shows us how to appreciate our culture and love one another's differences.

Element 1:
In element one, students learn to love who they are and where they came from.  It also deconstructs negative stereotypes.  In the book The Skin I'm In: A First Look At Racism, students will learn to embrace their differences like culture and skin color and stand up against racism to better our world.  There is an example in the book where a girl is discriminated against because of her skin color.  As a result, she tells an adult and learns to love herself regardless of what others may think. This book is a great tool for early childhood elementary teachers because it provides them with various ways students can stand up to racism and bullying.  It also encourages students to take pride in their culture, heritage, skin color, etc which directly relates to element one.

I would read this book aloud to the class and encourage the students to think about their culture, family traditions, skin color, religion, etc as the book is being read.  Before reading the book, I would ask the students to look around the classroom to notice that people around them may not look like them but may share some similarities and differences.  I would then allow them to discuss with one another their family background.  This would give opportunity for the students to learn about their peers.  Upon completing the book, I would do a role-playing activity by putting the students in groups and create scenarios where people may be bullied or made fun due to racial differences.  In this activity, we would discuss how it made the individual feel and how we can be better citizens by standing up to racism.  This activity teaches us how to love ourselves and love others.

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