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 7, 2011

I am America

Title: I Am America 
Author: Charles R. Smith Jr. 
Element: Element one- Self Love and Knowledge
Grades: K-2

Summary of I am America:  
The children's picture book I am America is a perfect book for emergent readers.  This book allows readers to see all the different looks, shapes, sizes, religions and races that makes up what it means to be "America."  This book exemplifies the diversity in this country that makes everyone so special and so unique.  I am America uses differences and opposites in hair color, skin color, personalities, religion, nationalities, interests and styles.  Overall, this book teaches its readers that there is no special way or look that makes you more Americanized as the person next to you.  It teaches that we are all different but we are all the same by being American.

How does I am America represent self love and knowledge:
This book represents self love and knowledge by allowing its readers to know that no matter what they look like or how different they may be compared to their peers, neighbors or teachers that we are all American and there is no "face" of America. It also allows its readers to have a understanding that we are all different but we are all Americanized and we all have the right to live in this country freely and not have to worry about acceptance or having the need to change to be more like others.  This book gives its readers the knowledge of what it means to be different in a country where no one is the same even though some like to categorize themselves as being alike. 

How would I use this book?:  
I would use this book in my classroom by making a classroom book just like this of my students and how we are all different yet all American.  I would take pictures of my students and as a class we would publish a classroom edition. I would incorporate this book either in the beginning of the school year to set the ground rules of acceptance of others, or i would incorporate this book around Presidents Day, Memorial Day or around September 11th to show the different acts of braveness of other Americans.

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