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.

Friday, November 14, 2014

I Am Jazz: Element 5: Raising Awareness

Author: Jessica Herthel
Illustrator: Shelagh McNicholas
Grade Level: K-3

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I am Jazz is a children’s story about a girl Jazz Jennings who from the time she was two years old knew she was a girl trapped in a boy’s body.  The book is written to reach all children whether they are transgender or not.  She simply tells her story about how she knew deep down who she was and it wasn’t until her parents took her to the doctor that it was confirmed, she was born transgendered.  By having this story she is raising awareness for herself and other kids who may be in the same shoes as she was.  This book gives a voice to kids and parents who may be confused or unaware of their feelings or emotions. 

Element #5 Raising Awareness:

Raising Awareness is demonstrated throughout this text using descriptive language and phrases that instill awareness for Jazz towards her parents and people around her.  This element details the opportunity for students who are passionate about an issue to advocate for other students who may be dealing with the same or similar issues.  In this book, Jazz is the advocate for transgender kids as well as non-transgender kids in the effort to come back and say what she believes to be correct.  My favorite page in the book says “When I was very little and my mom would say, “You’re such a good boy,” I would say “No, Mama, GOOD GIRL!”  This book may be simple is words but it opens the door for quality conversation and development for students in the entire class. 

Activity: (Intended for 3rd Grade Classroom)

To allow for student understanding and appreciation of all types of people and kids and families, this activity for raising awareness would take place within the first few weeks of school.  On back to school night, families and students would be welcome to come to the classroom and either bring a book to share among the classroom library or enjoy many read alouds throughout the evening.  The intent of this meeting would be to foster positive conversations within the classroom as well as continue the conversations in the home.  Some of the books that would already be in the classroom library would include; “I am Jazz, And Tango Makes Three, The Princess Boy and The Skin I’m In.”  The literature get togethers would occur throughout the school year, in efforts to expand the classroom library and become a tighter community within the classroom. 

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