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 7, 2014

The Skin I'm In: A First Look at Racism - Element 3

The Skin I'm in: a First Look at Racism


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

Written By: Pat Thomas
Illustrated By: Lesley Harker
Grade level: Kindergarten and up

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Element 3: Exploring Issues of Social Injustice
            This book explains what it is to be racist and to exclude the rights of people based off their race. It starts off with a scenario, asking the reader to imagine a world where only people with a certain hair color or eye color could go to school, or get a job. The author explains how a world like this would be unfair. This book not only teaches what culture and race is, but it explains how people should not be judged based on their skin color. This book compares racists to bullies; people who treat others like they are not good enough, without knowing the person for who they really are. The book explains that racists are cowards who are afraid of people that may look different than them. The author explains that we should never follow racists’ examples; we should accept everyone for who they are on the inside.  This book is a kindergarten and up reading level.

Connection to element 3: Exploring Issues of Social Injustice:
This book connects to element three, exploring issues of social injustice, because it discusses the issue of racism. It explains that people are sometimes judgmental to those of a difference race. The book promotes diversity and accepting people of all colors. It enforces the idea that we are all people who deserve the same respect. This book shows how racism has affected people in the past, and present. It explains how racist actions can make one feel low about themselves and their heritage. It also makes clear that these racist remarks are from people who are bullies, and should not be taken to heart. The author tells the reader that if they have any feelings about racist behavior that they should share them with an adult that they trust, because they will be able to help. It mentions that we should learn to embrace each other’s differences and learn and grow together.

Classroom activity:
In the classroom, I would do a read aloud of this book, stopping throughout the reading to discuss what we have read. I would ask the class to discuss any connections they make, observations, or comments. I would ask the children why they think people make racist comments or have these racist beliefs and how we could change their view. I would also ask students to elaborate on their thoughts about diversity and accepting one another. I would end this lesson with a discussion on how we can help change people’s views on diversity and on treating everyone equally.

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