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 11, 2015

I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother

I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother
Written & Illustrated by Selina Alko
Grade Level: PreK - 2nd

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Summary: An interracial couple is about to have their second child, and their first (protagonist Isaiah) wonders what the baby will look like. Isaiah knows that his own peanut butter complexion is a blend of daddy's chocolate and mama's strawberry cream milk. But he knows that there are plenty of other beautiful colors that could result, such as "coffee with lots and lots of cream" and "midnight licorice purple."

Isaiah does not wonder only about skin color. He also considers what the baby's hair, eyes, and lips will look like, as well as how his new sibling will appear when he or she plays. Aside from appearances, Isaiah contemplates being able to do activities with his sibling, such as drawing and singing.

This story is poetic and jazzy and not driven by plot. On the last page, Isaiah finds out he has a new baby sister and is pictured with her.

Element 1 (Self-love and Knowledge): The central theme of I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother is that diverse appearances are to be celebrated. Isaiah finds beauty and happiness in each of the very varied images he comes up with about his sibling-to-be.

Aside from celebrating and loving our own unique appearances, this story also teaches that we can celebrate where we come from. Isaiah got his skin complexion and other features through his parents, and is proud of that.

How to Use It: In a 1st or 2nd grade classroom, I would integrate I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother into a Language Arts lesson on poetry and imagery. Following a reading of this book, students (supplied with a wide range of skin tone coloring tools), would draw and color self-portraits, complete with name poems underneath to help give a fuller picture of each child besides appearances alone. For the name poems, students would try to come up with adjectives that describe themselves and that start with the same letters as those in their names. The portraits and poems would be hung up in the classroom.

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