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, October 31, 2011

Don't Throw that Away

Author: Lara Bergen
Illustrator: Betsy Snyder
Grade Level: P-1
Buy it here


“Don’t throw that away” by Lara Bergen, is about a little super hero girl who shows children how to reuse their trash to make other treasures with them. Instead of discarding old toys, cans, clothes, bottles etc, she gives children suggestions of how you can reuse those objects to make brand new and exciting things to play with and be environmentally friendly at the same time. The little girl gives kids ideas of turning an old jar into a vase or cans into musical instruments and much more.

Element # 5:

This book raises awareness to children on how important it is to be environmentally conscious. It is a beginner’s book in learning about our environment and the impact recycling has on it. It provides excellent examples on how we can make our everyday life more environmentally friendly by recycling and reusing our things. It gives children an opportunity to think and figure out ways of reusing their material things such as turning old clothes into costumes, boxes into cars and turning plastic jugs into bird feeders. The book gives a whole different perspective to children about things that they take for granted and how they can be creative with reusing their things. It is an opportunity for them to learn that they can make a difference.


A great activity that can be used in class (or at home) based on this book is to give an opportunity to children to find objects in the classroom (or home) that they can reuse in some way. Have them explain to classmates what their object is and what creative ideas they came up with in order to reuse and recycle this object.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down

Author: Andrea Davis Pinkney
Illustrator: Brian Pinkney
Grade Level: 3rd

Summary: Four friends sat down at the Woolworth's lunch counter on February 1st, 1960, hungry for a doughnut and coffee. Everyone else was served and they were ignored. The sign on the door said, "WHITES ONLY," and David, Joseph, Franklin, and Ezell were not white: they were African-American. The men came back every day, each day as peaceful as the day before, and everyday they stayed hungry. The four men inspired sit-ins across the country until thousands of hungry African-Americans were using Dr. Martin Luther King's peaceful ways as inspiration. Find out how everyday people used peace and perseverance to satisfy an entire culture's appetite!

Element 4: Sit In relates to Social Movements and Social Change because it tells the true story of everyday people acting against social injustice. While Dr. Martin Luther King provides inspiration to the people, the book highlights how it was students who took social action. Also, the book stresses the importance of peaceful demonstrations rather than violence. It shows how sitting, normally seen as a passive activity, can be more aggressive and effective than any punch, insult, or weapon.

Activity: Because the book has a running theme of food, ingredients, and recipes, I would have the students made their own recipe for an injustice they would like the change. Students can model their recipes from the one on the last page of the story. Ideas might range from ending bullying, treating others with respect, and embracing other cultures. More ambitious topics might be legalizing gay marriage or changing immigration laws. Students will come up with 8-10 steps for their "recipe," decorate, and display!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Title: March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the Word
Author: Christine King Farris
Illustrated by: London Ladd
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc
Reading Level: ages 9-12

Summary: This book, written by Martin Luther King Jr.'s very own sister Christine King Farris, illuminates his infamous march and movement that changed our country forever. Farris highlights Martin's upbringing and how that had an affect on his modest personality. She describes, in detail, how his march began and progressed as individuals of all creeds, races, and backgrounds from around the country came together to follow Dr. King's movement. She describes how Martin put his all into his speeches and was well aware of how crucial his words were in order to get the right message across to his listeners. Farris touches on Martin's efforts to connect with other leaders that shared his same passion for civil rights. The illustrations and powerful words, including actual dialogue that occurred the day of the march. create a realistic image of what actually took place on that day, the day Martin Luther King Jr. made his infamous "I Have a Dream" speech.

Element Four: The story of Martin Luther King Jr. is the perfect example of element four: social movements and social change. This particular individual envisioned a dream that, at the time, seemed impossible to accomplish. However, with his courageous attitude he set out to start a movement that would change American's lives forever. He was one man with a large dream; he set out to address an issue of social injustice by uniting a group of people to create change. He inspired a countless number of Americans to join the civil rights movement by organizing a march and delivering a speech, that would eventually become one of the most famous speeches ever heard.

Activity: This story would be most appropriately read during black history month, or specifically on Martin Luther King Jr day. This story is a great way to inspire children to make their own change in our society. After a read aloud of this story, students (ages 9-12) will write a reaction piece as two why and how Dr. King made a social change in America. Questions that could be addressed could involve, but are not limited to, if you were alive during the civil rights movement would you have been an activist of the movement? How would you have been involved and what would have inspired you the most to do so? Do you think you would have been a social-change icon like Martin was or would you be a supporter (marcher) of the movement? Why?

Daddy's Roommate

Title: Daddy's Roommate
Author: Michael Willhoite
Illustrated by: Michael Willhoite
Reading level: Ages 4-8 / Grades K-3
Publisher: Alyson Publications

· Purchase Daddy's Roommate Online NOW!

Click here to learn about a sequel to this book!

Summary: Daddy's Roommate is a book about a little boy whose parents recently got a divorce. He lives at both of his parent's houses, and goes back and forth between the two. His father has a roommate named "Frank," and Frank and his father are a gay couple. Throughout the story, we see Frank and his Dad doing almost everything together, for example, eating, shaving, and sleeping. The little boy also explains how Frank is just like his Daddy; he reads to him, tells him jokes, and chases nightmares away. This book has an important message that "Being gay is just one more kind of love, and love is the best kind of happiness." I found this message to be very powerful because it teaches young children that it should not matter who we love, it is being able to experience love that matters.

Element #3: I found this book to represent Element 3 because the overall topic is about a homosexual relationship and how it has impacted a young boy's life. This story gives students a chance to learn about the different types of family structures, and about homosexual relationships. This is a great example of how we are all different from one another, and it is important to recognize those differences in the classroom. This gives students an opportunity to relate if they usually find it hard to relate to the standard story characters. Daddy's Roommate introduces a diverse family structure. Gay relationships has been a topic that was overlooked and frowned upon for many years in our society. We have taken small steps recently to help create change and allow for homosexuals to be able to live as fearless and equal individuals. Students will learn that there is nothing wrong with being gay, it is just "one more kind of love."

Follow-Up Activity:
For a follow-up activity I would have the students create their own picture book of what their family unit's are like and the activities that they all do together. We can share and discuss them in our classroom. They could be displayed on a bulletin board or around the room and students will have the opportunity to walk around and observe their classmate's drawings.

This lesson is also creative and is what inspired me to think of this.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Susan B. Anthony: Fighter for Freedom and Equality

Author: Suzanne Slade
Illustrator: Craig Orback
Grade Level: 2nd - 3rd


Susan B. Anthony is the focus of the biography titled “Susan B. Anthony Fighter for Freedom and Equality”. She is a historical figure that is famous for her work within the women’s rights movement. Susan was raised in a Quaker family which believed in equality and the right to an education for all. As a young girl Susan experienced inequality inside the classroom. This experience, combined with Susan’s passion for learning inspired her to become a teacher. As a working adult, Susan continued to experience inequality and discrimination. For example, a man was paid four times the amount she was paid for doing the same job. After continuous experience with discrimination, Susan B. Anthony decided to become active in the fight against discrimination. The first movement that she joined was the Temperence Movement, which sought to reduce the use of alcohol because of its negative effects on society and women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton helped propel Susan B. Anthony to the front of the women’s movement. They met in 1851 and shared similar beliefs. Elizabeth would write many of Susan’s speeches, which Susan used as a way to communicate the issues created by inequality in America. Susan’s efforts against inequality continued through the Civil War. Susan was able get 400,000 signatures on a petition during the Civil War, which helped create support for the 13th Amendment, leading to the emancipation of slaves. After the Civil War, Susan B. Anthony continued her fight against inequality, this time focusing on women’s rights. Susan would give about 200 speeches per year. Susan and Elizabeth started a newspaper called The Revolution, which was used as a means to communicate ideas that supported equality for men and women, including granting women the right to vote. As a result of Susan’s efforts, mainstream Americans began to focus more attention on the issue of inequality in America. She can be given credit for paving the way to equality for women and African-Americans.

Element Four: Social Movements and Social Change

The book “Susan B. Anthony Fighter for Freedom and Equality” is a wonderful picture book that addresses the issue of social injustice. It gives a background to the issues created by inequality in America, including sex and race discrimination. This book teaches students that regular people can create change within the world around them. Susan B. Anthony experienced inequality and decided to take action to create social change. Susan’s life provides an example of how to stand up against social injustice. It gives hope and inspiration to common people, thus inspiring a belief that they too can stand up for their rights and fight for equality.


After our Susan B. Anthony read-a-loud, the students would write in their journals to express their feelings toward our reading. Once the students are done writing, I would have them do a “think-pair-share” discussion on their thoughts, feelings, and what they have learned from the reading. As the students are discussing I would walk around and observe the students thoughts.

Dreams: The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Author: Peter Murray
Illustrated By: Robin Lawrie
Grade Level: K-3

Buy it Here!

Dreams:The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. was about his life leading up until his famous “I have a Dream” speech in 1963. As a child Martin Luther King experienced quite a few moments of segregation. In the book, he recalls one particular time when two of his white friends told him they were not allowed to play with him anymore because he was black. He was forced to give up seats on the bus and even in a shoe store because those seats were reserved for “whites only”. His father was a reverend and Martin Luther King Jr. admired him and what he stood for. One of the most important things he learned from his father was the phrase “You can’t be afraid of doing what’s right.” So when he got to college he decided he wanted to become a minister. Eventually King got married to Coretta Scott, and he decided he wanted to live in the south, despite the Jim Crow Laws that were in effect there. He soon moved there with his wife and became a pastor in Alabama where he preached his thoughts on the unfairness of the Jim Crow Laws. During this time, Rosa Parks took her stand against the buses and King was right there to help her out . In 1955, he helped set up the boycott of the Montgomery bus company in which he gained a lot of fame. Even though he was arrested for the boycott he was able to get rid of segregation on the bus, which was a major civil rights victory in his eyes. Before he knew it, King had become a Civil Rights Leader of America. This all led up to his famous speech in 1963, in which he proclaimed his wishes for an equal society where everyone is treated the same and segregation does not exist and everyone is free. Unfortunately in 1968, King was killed outside a hotel, but his famous speech and civil rights movement will live on forever.

Element 4:
This book relates to Element 4 because it is about one man's journey to create the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King, Jr. took social injustice to a whole new level when he stood up for what he believed in and ultimately died for it in the end, which is what this element represents. Through sit ins, boycotts, civil rights marches and his famous speech he took a stand for the social injustice that was occuring at the time.

Activity: An activity that could be done using this book in a classroom, is to have the children each right their own personal “I have a dream” speech about something that they hope will change in their lifetime. Children will be able to think as if they were Martin Luther King Jr. and write about something they believe strongly about that should be changed in some way or another. In helping them think of ideas to write about, teachers should ask them questions such as "Why is that so important to you?" , or "How will that change the world we live in?"

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass
 Author: Catherine A. Welch 
Illustrations: Lerner Publications Company
Grade Levels: Kindergarten-Grade 2

Summary: This biography is written about Frederick Douglass. He was an African American man who escaped slavery. His encouraging speeches led other men, women, and children to freedom. This book encompasses the horrors of slavery and the pain Douglass had to endure during early 1800's. Fredrick's life is exposed and illustrates his dream of freedom, literacy, and rights for all including women. He was a passionate leader and speaker who involved himself with President Lincoln to create equal rights for blacks. A violinist, author, father, and husband, Fredrick Douglass finally helped free the slaves and assisted in making the country a better place.  

Element 4: Frederick Douglass started his life as an average slave. Determined to abolish slavery, Frederick understood the wrongs done to him and African Americans through real life experience and reading literature about freedom. Douglass believed it was worth risking his life to speak on behalf of others who could not. Little by little, Frederick Douglass proved that black men and women were just as smart as white people. This book is a true example illustrating by putting effort towards the better good, positive impacts on society may be made. By recognizing that there were crimes committed against humanity and taking action with others, Frederick Douglass made a severe impact on the equality of man. This demonstrates societal movement and change and is well represented in Frederick Douglass by Catherine A. Welch.

Activity: For school aged children, a great activity would be to have each child speak about a positive point from their own heritage. The children could make a poster to hang in the classroom on the topic of their choice. This way, the students can see that everyone is special in their own ways and that each child should be proud of who they are. Then they can do a follow up research on a man, woman, boy, or girl from their cultural or ethnic background who did something, big or small, and have a group discussion of their findings.


Author: Nikki Giovanni
Illustrator: Bryan Collier


Grade level: 3-5

Summary: This book is a wonderful picture book. Rosa Parks is
the lead character, it tells her story about how she stood up for herself on the bus when she was sitting in the neutral sits. It displays her courage especially when she was getting yelled at by the bus driver. She was sick and tired of being treated poorly because of her color. In the book she talks about being tired of "colored" entrances and "colored" drinking fountains. Most of all she was tired of not being treated equal. Rosa got arrested after not moving from her seat that is when the people she knew in her town created posters saying "No riders today support Mrs. Parks stay off the bus, walk on Monday." At the end Martin Luther King spoke, people from all over the country came to see. On November 13,1956 segregation became illegal.

Element 4: This element is all about people coming together to address the issues of social injustice. This book represents element 4 because it shows how ordinary people can create change in the world. Rosa Parks is an example of how one extraordinary person in this world went down in history because she stood up for what was right.

Acitivity: An activity that you can do after reading this book is at the end of the book there is a quote. " The integrity, the dignity, the quiet strength of Rosa Parks turned her no into a yes for change." You can ask your students what they think is the meaning of this quote. You can also ask them if they agree with it. They can work together or individually or even have them have a journal and ask them to write their opinion of that quote on paper.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Boy with Pink Hair

Author: Perez Hilton
Illustrator: Jen Hill
Grade Level: K-2

Buy it here!

Summary: The Boy with Pink Hair is a story about a little boy who is born with pink hair. No one could figure out exactly why his hair was pink even after doing numerous tests. Eventually, it was stated that he was simply born that way. The boy with pink hair never seemed to mind that he had pink hair until he went out in public and people would stare, laugh, and make rude comments. Fortunately, the boy's parents explained to him that it was a good thing to be different and it would end up helping him make a difference in the future. One day, it was time for the boy to start elementary school, he was not worried until he actually got to school and the kids made fun of him. Especially one little boy who would call him a "weirdo" for having pink hair. The boy with pink hair felt sad and lonely when this happened, but shortly after that he made a friend who said her favorite color was pink! He became quick friends with the little girl and would cook her all types of pink foods, the boy with pink hair loved to cook and was very good at it. When it was the little boy's open house at school, he got his moment to shine. The stove had broken and the principal asked the boy with pink hair to save the day and make food for everyone. The boy with pink hair made lots of different types of food very quickly and without using a stove and had all his friends help him, even ones that had not been so nice to him in the past. Later, that day the little boy met one of his friend's parents who asked if he could have some of the little boy with pink hair's recipes for his restaurant! In the end the boy with pink hair realized that he could be different and make a big difference just like his parents had said.

Element 2: The Boy with the Pink Hair relates to element two because it shows the other students that no matter what the little boy looks like he is no different than the rest of them. Specifically, the one little boy who was very mean to the boy with pink hair learns to respect him and they become friends.

Activity: A teacher can use this book to bring the students' attention to bullying and explain that it is okay to be different and it is important to respect one another. Also, after having a meaningful discussion like that, the teacher can have the children create some type of pink food on their own just like the boy with pink hair did in the story. For example, with parents permission of course, children could work together to make pink cupcakes or pink ice cream!

Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys

Author: Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard
Illustrator: E. B. Lewis
Grade Level: 2

Summary: Virgie goes to school is a story about an African American girl, who lived during the time period when blacks were not allowed to attend school, therefore not receiving the proper education in order to learn to read and write. In the beginning of the story it discusses how recently thanks to Abraham Lincoln setting them free, a school for black people was just opened. Virgie has five brothers that begin to attend the school, but she begins to wonder why she can’t go to school as well. Some of her brothers tell her the reason is because girls don’t need school, but her brother C.C. thinks differently from his brothers and defends Virgie by saying that girls need to learn to read, write and do ‘rithmetic just like boys do. Throughout the story Virgie insists and questions why she can’t go to school, that her parents finally give in and tell her she can attend when classes start again after summer. The school is seven miles away and as she travels with her brothers, there are instances during their journey that depict how Virgie is treated differently or stereotyped for being a girl. As the story unfolds, it shows that Virgie is no different from her brothers just because she is a girl and in the end her brothers' realize this. Virgie arrives at the school and experiences this whole new world, this place has to offer and converses to her brother C.C. how she can’t wait to go home to tell their parents how they’re learning to be free.

Element 3: This book depicts element 3 “Exploring Issues of Social Injustice,” in that it intertwines the issues of racism and sexism. Racism is illustrated when the book discusses how when African Americans were slaves, they were not allowed to attend school. Even after they were freed thanks to Abraham Lincoln, they still faced the social injustice of being segregated in view that that the school that opened was just for blacks. This is an important illustration of everything blacks have endured to get equal rights, but yet somehow some till present day may still feel segregated in some way. In addition to exploring the concept “learning to be free,” through the visual lens of a little girl the book demonstrates sexism and how although they tell Virgie that girls do not need school, she questions and fights to get the equal opportunity like her brothers to learn how to read and write. The book does a great job at illustrating in different parts how girls are stereotyped and treated distinctly based on their gender through the way Virgie was treated by her brothers. At the end it shows how the brothers’ thinking is altered and realize Virgie should have the right to learn how to read and write no matter what her gender is.

Activity: As a follow up activity after reading the book, the teacher can have the class define the word stereotype and have them write about some they may have encountered, whether it is based on race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status or religion and how these can influence people’s way of thinking as well as how this makes them feel. Then collect these writings, shuffle them and hand them out to different students. After passing them out once again, have the students discuss in groups what is written on their sheet and have them come up with ways they could alter this stereotype or actions that can take place to help fight these social injustices.

Terrible Things

Title: "Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust"
Author: Eve Bunting
Illustrator: Stephen Gammell
Grade Level: 1- 3

Purchase this book here!

Summary: Terrible Things, explores the social injustices of the Holocaust by using animals in a forest setting. The different types of animals, such as the birds, squirrels, rabbits, and frogs represent the groups of people that suffered through the Holocaust. When "the Terrible Things" come, they take away one animal group at a time, depending on certain characteristics they have. For example, the Terrible Things come and state, "We have come for every creature with feathers on its back." Little Rabbit and Big Rabbit are the main characters in the story. Little Rabbit is always questioning why the Terrible Things are taking the animals. For example he asks, "Why did the Terrible Things want the birds, what is wrong with having feathers?" Big Rabbit never asks questions and encourages Little Rabbit to not ask any either, his main focus is not making the Terrible Things mad. One line that Big Rabbit says is, "...but the Terrible Things do not need a reason, just mind your own business, we do not want to make them mad." As the story unfolds, all the animal groups are taken away by the Terrible Things. The only animal left is Little Rabbit who manages to hide under a rock. At the end of the story, Little Rabbit runs into to the lifeless, silent forest and thinks to himself that he wished everyone had stuck together because things would have been different.

Element 3: Terrible Things, by Eve Bunting is related to element 3 because it portrays the issues of the social injustices involved with the Holocaust. For any age, the Holocaust is a very complex and difficult topic to explore in World History. Eve Bunting's words and Stephen Gammell's illustrations make the Holocaust understandable for younger children. This book would make a great introduction to exploring the social injustices associated with the Holocaust, but would need to be followed with a factual account (age appropriate). Children can begin to understand how the oppressions and injustices of this historical event have shaped people's present day lives.

Activity: This book would make great introductory material for a lesson about discrimination. Before the book is read, a brief class discussion explaining and conversing about how each individual is different and these differences make everyone unique. After reading the book, children can get into groups to make a poster of what they would do if they were Little Rabbit in the story.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

You Forgot Your Skirt Amelia Bloomer!

Title" "You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer!"
Author: Shana Corey
Illustrator: Chesley McLaren
Grade Level: k-3

Summary: "You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer!" is a children's book that takes place in the 19th century about a woman named Amelia Bloomer. Amelia Bloomer was a feminist during this time period and this book represents her beliefs for women. She believes that "proper" ladies were silly. She believed it was silly that proper ladies could not vote and could not work. She dreaded the heavy wardrobe "proper" women wore and how hard it was to get around in such dresses. Sometimes, these "proper" women would even faint from their dresses being too tight. Amelia Bloomer knew that this had to stop! One day her friends visit her, and the outfit one of them is wearing catches Amelia's eye. Her friend was even more improper than Amelia because she was not wearing a dress. Amelia loved this idea and went to make one of her own right away! When she goes out in public without her "proper" attire on, the townspeople gasp and stare. Not too long after, almost every woman in town was wearing this new trend.

Element 4: This picture book represents Element 4 because it is an inspiring story of how one woman, Amelia Bloomer, decided to go against the social norms of society and do something that made her happy. This book is also an excellent representation of sexism and the inequalities between men and women during the time period, and how far women have come today. It teaches young children that it is okay to stand out from the crowd, and that it is okay to feel different from others. Amelia Bloomer did not want to fit in with the other women and be a "proper" lady. She did not care if she was judged as "improper," she did not want to conform to the restricted society she lived in any longer. Her decision to create a new wardrobe influenced other women in her society to also make a change. Eventually every woman she knew was walking around in the same attire. Amelia Bloomer was an ordinary lady and this shows how ordinary people have the same ability as anyone else to make an impact.

Activity: This book would be a great resource to use in the classroom if the students currently attend a school where uniforms are required. The students can write letters, or publish an article in the newspaper (just like Amelia Bloomer did) to spread their opinions about the dress code. It could also be used if the students were not required to wear school uniforms, it could be a hypothetical situation; a "How would you feel if...?"

Another activity to do in the classroom with this book would be to explore "weight" and to discuss how heavy women's clothing was back then. The class could compare how much a "dozen bricks" weighs (since that is what it is compared to in the book) to the weight of an average pair of pants, jeans, or a dress.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Champions on the Bench

Author: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrator: Leonard Jenkins
Grade Levels: 2-3

This book can be purchased here!

Champions on the Bench is about an African American boy, Cleveland who had just joined his first baseball team in 1955. He trained with the team in every position and ended up as the team's pitcher. When the end of the season came, Cleveland was named to the All-Star team that was supposed to go compete in state tournament and if they won that they would go on to the World Series play-off. However, when it came time for the state tournament Cleveland's team found out that the other sixty-one white teams refused to play against his all black team. The other teams dropped out of the tournament and formed an all white tournament instead. Cleveland and his team were very upset to miss this opportunity however, they were still invited to the Word Series to watch the other teams play. People in the stands cheered to let Cleveland's team play but it didn't make a difference. When the season was over they all still continued to play baseball after school. Finally, in the Major League World Series that year Cleveland watched Jackie Robinson help lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to victory. Cleveland saw this as victory for everyone.

Element 3:
This relates to element 3 because it showed how racism affected different groups people. Cleveland's team was excluded from the tournament simply because the white teams didn't want to play against his team. This book takes place a year after Plessy vs Ferguson was overturned, yet segregation and racism continued on.

Reading this book to my class could be a good way to start into a lesson on segregation. We could begin with a discussion branching off from the book on how they would feel if they weren't allowed to play because of the color of their skin? Do they think this is fair? Why do they think Cleveland's team should be allowed to play? From here I could then teach about other places or things that were segregated at this time to help their background knowledge on this topic before moving into element 4.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Keeping Quilt

The Keeping Quilt
Author: Patricia Polacco
Grade Level: 3-5

Summary: The story "The Keeping Quilt" is about a Jewish family who had just moved here from Russia. They did not have much to show except for the clothes on their own backs. As those in the family grew older, they wanted to reassure themselves that they would forever hold a piece of home with them where ever they went. Great-Gramma Anna took pieces of the family's favorite items of clothing and sewed them all together to create one large quilt. This quilt stayed with the family through any major occasions that took place such as weddings, engagements, and new additions to the family. The quilt is described in the book to have lasted at least three generations within the family. Who knows where it will go next?

Element 3: The Keeping Quilt is a perfect book for element 3, exploring issues of social injustice, because it explores the life of immigration in America. America was created from the immigrants that came to this country, so it can only be assumed that the majority of students in your classroom are from or have ancestors from around the world. The Keeping Quilt shows the ideas that even though families need to adapt and change over time, there are still many traditions that people hang onto.

Activity: The Keeping Quilt creates great ideas for bringing element 3 into the classroom. Because the main idea of book is the quilt, why not make a quilt of your own? Have all of the students in the classroom speak to their elders and find out what traditions have been passed down through time whether it be a materialistic item, or even having spaghetti dinners every sunday night. Each child will write a short report on what it is that makes their family special and what customs they have carried on through the years. In addition, each student will draw a picture of a way the practices has been upheld. Every picture will be attached together on a large sheet that will hang on a wall in the classroom so everyone can see the different beliefs and backgrounds every family has. The students will learn that even though every family is different by their traditions, every family is the same in the simple fact that they all have them.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Colors of Us

The Colors of Us

Author: Karen Katz
Illustrator: Karen Katz
Grade Level: 1st or 2nd 

Summary: Seven year old Lena is learning about mixing colors relating to different skin colors.  To her, cinnamon resembles her skin.  Lena’s mom informs her that there actually is not a “right” brown color but instead there are many different shades.  They decide to go for a walk.  Along the way, Lena runs into some of her friends, like Sonia, Isabella and Jo-Jin.  She realizes that their skin is different shades, which leads her to compare the colors to food and various objects.  Lena and her mom also pass by store owners and other family members, which include Aunt Kathy.  By passing all of these people of different shades, Lena realizes everyone is a different color.  Back at home while hanging out with her friends, Lena thinks about all the people she saw.  She realizes that each color is just as beautiful as the next.  Lena is now finally able to complete her painting.  Lena recalls all of the different colors she saw on her walk and paints each person.  In the end, Lena shows her mom the completed painting and titles it “The Colors of Us”.  She now has an appreciation for each color.

Element 2:  This book represents “Respect for Others” on a very simple and basic level.  The Colors of Us familiarizes the reader that each person is not the same color, but instead different shades.  Lena learns this concept hands-on.  I think this book does a great way of exposing different races by comparing the colors to things relevant in a child’s life, especially food.  The readers will enjoy exploring different skin tones when they are described as “the cupcakes we had for her birthday” or “the color of pizza crust, a golden brown”.  This book concentrates on the appreciation people should have for other individuals of different skin tones.  Lena does not discriminate against certain people because they are either darker or lighter than her.  She has formed friendships with everyone, which I think is an important lesson for any person to incorporate into their own life.

Activity:  For the activity, I will begin a discussion with my students about the thoughts and opinions of The Colors of Us.  I will allow my students to ask any questions or share any experiences relating to different skin tones.  After the discussion, I will pass out pieces of paper and drawing materials, such as markers, crayons and colors pencils.  Like in our actual class, the students will draw pictures that focus mainly on their own skin tone.  Once everyone is done, the students will share their drawings.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

You Are Special

Title: You Are Special

Author: Max Lucado

Illustrator: Sergio Martinez

Grade level: 1st and up


Summary: Punchinello is a Wemmick, or a small wooden puppet. He lives with other Wemmicks and all they do is put stickers on each other every day. The nice, pretty, talented Wemmicks would get the gold star stickers and those with chipped paint, scratches, or those who don’t have any special talents got the ugly, gray dot stickers. Punchinello would always get the gray dots. He meets another Wemmick just like him and finds out that she always got the ugly stickers, too. She told him to go sit with Eli, the puppet maker. Eli tells Punchinello that he doesn’t care if he has gray dots all over him; he loves him just the same and respects him for who he is, flaws and all. He also learns that flaws should not depict who someone is, but it’s what on the inside that counts, and makes you special.

Element 2-Respect for Others: The title for this book is perfect because just from hearing it, children will learn that they are special in their own way.  This story focuses on people’s differences and how they are often pointed out, sometimes in a negative light. It is important to understand that everyone has differences that make them unique, such as skin color, hair color, and religious or ethnic background, and these distinctions should not be seen as faults. Although the book does not exactly touch on racial and cultural differences, the idea portrayed in the story can definitely be connected to that.  It teaches children that everyone is unique, but that is what makes them special.

Activity: I would have the students create marionette puppets to mirror those in the story, but make the puppets look like them. I would provide the model for the marionette as well as the supplies, but I would allow the students to create everything else to make the puppet resemble them. I would have them bring in a picture of their faces to put on the head of the puppet. In addition, I would give them paper stars to put on their puppet and allow them to write when they like about themselves in the star. This could be an activity or an attribute they like (honest, kind, blue eyes, curly hair, etc).  The beauty of the activity is that there is no wrong way to do it because you’re simply creating yourself.  When the puppets are completed, I would hang up all of the creations around the classroom so everyone can see how their differences make them special.

The Sneetches

Title: The Sneetches

Author: Dr. Seuss

Illustrator: Dr. Seuss

Grade Level- Kindergarten – 2nd Grade

Buy it here!


Summary- There are two different types of Sneetches in the story The Sneetches. There are Star-Bellied Sneetches and Plain-Bellied Sneetches. The Star-Bellied Sneetches were viewed as the better kind of Sneetch and refused to associate with any Plain-Bellied Sneetches. Then a man came to the Sneetches with a machine that would allow the Plain-Bellied Sneetches to get a star on their bellies. When the original Star-Bellied Sneetches saw this they went to the man to go through a machine to remove their stars. After all of the craziness of adding and removing stars, no one could tell who was originally a Star-Bellied Sneetch or a Plain-Bellied Sneetch. Then the Sneetches realized that it does not matter what you look like and no Sneetch was better than another. This would teach children that there are always going to be different types of people but it doesn’t mean one is better than the other, especially because of the way someone looks.

Element 2: Respect for Others-This book shows how societies focus on the way that someone looks. It shows a group of people that are disrespected because the way the look. Once everyone switched up the way they looked they realized that it didn’t even matter anymore. The children can see in the illustration how upset the Plain-Bellied Sneetches were when they weren’t allowed to play with the Star-Bellied Sneetches. The different types of Sneetches show diversity which is something the student’s would see in their classroom. The segregation of the two types of Sneetches would show the children what it means to discriminate against a group of people and how it makes those people feel. From the story, the children would learn that it doesn’t matter how someone looks because they are all people, or in this case, Sneetches.

Activity- The activity I would do with the students after reading this book would show the differences and similarities in people. I would ask the students to think of ways that they are different from their peers to point out their diversity in a healthy way. To do this I would give each of them a picture of a Sneetch. Each student would make their Sneetch just like them. Then, there would be a picture of one big Sneetch that would represent our whole class. The children would have to share things that all of them have in common such as being a student or their age. Then everyone could add their Sneetch to the board that has the class Sneetch on it. This would show that they are all unique people but they also have many things in common.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Skin You Live In

Author: Michael Tyler

Illustrator: David Lee Csicsko

Grade Level: Kindergarten-2nd grade

Summary: This lively and energetic text teaches children to not discriminate between races and skin colors. Through a jubilent nursery rhyme style, the message of social acceptance is delivered to children. The book starts out explaining all the different things you do in your skin, like "the skin you have fun in; the skin that you run in" and "the skin you laugh in; the skin you cry in". Tyler writes that our skin is "colorful" and comes in "shades". He relates these different shades to different kinds of foods, for example: "Your coffee and cream skin, your warm cocoa dream skin..." The end of the book tells us how we shouldnt dicriminate between all the different skins based on who is the best in a sport, who is taller, who is richer, etc. We are all individually special in our own way and I think this book really portrays that message and that Michael Tyler made it fun and interesting for children to realize that.

Element 2: This element is about creating a respectable climate between students in the classroom. The children must "deconstruct stereotypes" and recognize and learn about other cultures. Although this book is not really about culture, it is about respecting others and not discriminating based on one's skin color. Also, it teaches not to discriminate between boys and girls, or someone being better than someone else, because everyone is equal.

Activity: I would do an art project of some sort using this book. I would have multi-cultural markers and shades of construction paper, as well as different colored yarn. I would let the student create a self portrait of themselves using these materials (yarn can be used for hair). I would then have them write a phrase relating food to their individual skin color like Tyler did in the book. I want the students to be creative, but appropriate with these phrases and to be unique with their portraits.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hello World!

books.jpg: "Hello World"

By: Manya Stojic

Grade level: K-2nd

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Summary: The book "Hello World" is a story that introduces 42 different languages. This book presents us with how to say "hello" in all these languages. As we are introduced to new countries while we are reading, we learn the locations and also the correct pronunciation of the word. For example, in Hawaii they say Aloha. The pictures in the book are of children from these locations. There skin color, hair, eyes and all qualities that make every person different change throughout the story, although the main shapes of the children's faces are similar representing unity.

Element: I think that this story ties Element 1, self love and knowledge very clearly. The book brings understanding to different cultures. By being able to say "hello" to someone in their own language representing their culture can make a huge different in that person's life. Also, this small gesture at such early ages can trigger and interest in learning more and less judgements. It allows children to become interested in each other at younger ages. The children are able to notice their differences and embrace them. They clearly see that every single language is different, along with the differentiated illustrations. The main point, they see that these differences are good and make up the world.

Activity: I would begin by having a discussion after all the different languages we learned about. I think amazing activities to follow up this book would be how we colored over our own faces in class with crayons and also the abc book. Although a different activity I may do would be to make a "quilt". I would have each children write "love" in their own languages and decorate the piece of cloth with items or colors representing their culture. I would then sew them together creating our "class family".