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.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Me I Am

Author: Jack Prelutsky
Illustrator: Christine Davenier
Age Range: 3-6
Grade Level: Preschool - Grade 1
Element One: Self-Love and Knowledge

Where to Purchase this book...

About this Book: Me I Am is a journey into the life of three young children. Each child views them-self as unique and the only one that "qualifies as me!" Their self-awareness empowers them to be who they are, claiming "there is no room for two." The first child we meet is a young girl who hangs up her dress to be her Me I Am. The illustrations communicate that she is uncomfortable in her dress and prefers the outdoors. She goes roller-skating, collects rain in her boots, and goes bike riding dressed as a pirate. Second, we meet an inquisitive young boy. His preference is learning. Discovery is his Me I Am. Dressed in overalls, the boy can be found in his bedroom and in the park creating and interacting with nature. Last, we meet a young artistic girl. Creativity is her Me I Am. She performs her own version of "Swan Lake" featuring herself and her dog, dressed in her own designs (her stuffed-animals and dolls are the audience). All three meet one another on the street (with many other children not featured in the story) and realize that there are many other children that are unique just like them. They embrace each others Me I Am and celebrate their uniqueness.

Element One - Self-Love and Awareness: Social Justice Element number one teaches us about Self-Love and Awareness. Although this book does not focus of cultural or ethnic identity, it teaches the reader and listener that we should love our self and embrace our uniqueness. Each character, in the story, can be viewed as a typical young child; playing, exploring, and dancing. What is important for the reader/listener to respect is the self-awareness and acceptance that each child shows. Each child accepts and loves who they are. When they meet the other children in the story, they recognize each other as unique and accept one another. They are no negative stereotypes that need to be deconstructed when we accept who we are and what we can become.

Activities: Before reading the story to young students, I would ask them to think of something that they believe makes them who they are. I would read the story and stop after each child and ask them what they believe makes each character unique. After I finished the story and thoroughly went over the importance of self-love, awareness, and acceptance, I would prompt students to draw themselves and write what makes them unique. I would also ask them to write down what makes their classmates and family members unique. This would be completed over several days. At the end of the unit I would design a book or poster that identified everyone's Me I Am, and display it in the classroom. I would ask students why having many different types of unique people is important and accepting one another is just as important as accepting our self.

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