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.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

It's Okay to Be Different

“It’s Okay to Be Different”
Written and Illustrated by Todd Parr
Grade level: K-2
Element 2: Respect for Others
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Additional resources here

Summary: “It’s Okay to Be Different” by Todd Parr shows children there are many types of differences that are “okay.”  Each page begins with the words, “It’s okay to…” and follows with a difference that people may have along with a colorful illustration.  Parr uses examples such as being a different color, coming from a different place, having “wheels”, and being adopted. He also includes other differences relatable to children ages 5-8 such as missing teeth, having big ears, wearing glasses, and having an imaginary friend.  This story teaches children that all of these differences are okay!

Element 2- Respect for Others: “It’s Okay to Be Different” represents the element of respect for others by providing the reader with many examples of differences and showing them that it is normal to be different.  Parr is sending a message to his readers that being different is common and perfectly okay!  By including examples such as needing help, having two moms or two dads, and having different kinds of friends, Parr is showing children to accept all kinds of people as well as respect them. This book does a fantastic job promoting respect for others by learning to accept others differences, as well as your own, in a fun way for young readers!

Class Activity: I would use this book in my classroom at the very beginning of the school year to establish a climate of respect in the classroom.  As an introduction to the book, I would have my students get out of their seats to do a fun activity where they group themselves into categories according to hair color, then by what kind of shoes they are wearing, and eye color.  This way, no child will be singled out because everyone has a different eye and hair color! In doing this activity, the students will realize there are differences across the classroom. After beginning to discuss these basic differences among the students, I would read the book “It’s Okay to Be Different” as a class.  In a closing discussion, we could each take turns to talk about what we think makes us different as a way to accept all of our differences and respect one another. 

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