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, February 7, 2016

My Friend Has Down Syndrome

Image result for my friend has down syndrome 
My Friend Has Down Syndrome
Author: Jennifer Moore-Mallinos
Illustrator: Marta Fabrega
Reading level: Age 6-9
Publisher: Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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Educational tools from NDSS (National Down Syndrome Society)

My Friend Has Down Syndrome is a children's picture book written in first person. The narrator is chosen at her summer camp to be the new girl, Tammy's, special buddy. At first, the narrator was excited to hold this special responsibility. When Ms. Theresa, her camp counselor, reveals that Tammy has Down syndrome, all the campers got scared because they did not what Down syndrome was. The book addresses the fear children may have by explaining the science and traits that are typical of those with Down syndrome. When the narrator meets Tammy, she realizes what a wonderful person and friend she is, and all the things she can do despite her differences.

Element #2: Respect for Others
My Friend Has Down Syndrome does not enforce the notion that "we are all the same despite our differences." Instead, it addresses that a child with Down syndrome is different. It explains the chromosomal difference for a child and the typical look of a child with Down syndrome. My Friend Has Down Syndrome promotes respect for others by giving children information about the disability, rather than ignoring it and only talking about the abilities or disabilities of a child with Down syndrome. In the end, the narrator realizes how even though Tammy may be slow at races, she is amazing at arts and crafts, playing guitar, and instilling confidence in others. This book promotes respect for others within children is by addressing and talking about differences, rather than pretending that the noticeable differences do not exist. The book gives children knowledge and understanding that are the building blocks towards respect for others. 

Use in the Classroom:
As inclusion is become common practice in education, students can use this book to learn about other students who are now in their general education classroom. This book can be used as a read aloud for not only learning about respecting others, but for an introduction to genetics. This book addresses chromosomes and how a difference in one causes Down syndrome. Multidisciplinary lessons are always a win for teachers trying to fulfill Common Core Standards! As a class, the teacher can make a chart and ask what things Tammy is good at, and what things Tammy finds difficult. Afterwards, students can make their own charts on what they are good at and what they find difficult. The lesson drives home that all people have things they are good at and things that need assistance with.

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