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.

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.

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