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.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Black Book of Colors

The Black Book of Colors

The Black Book of Colors (Emily, Julia, and Jen)
By: Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria

Summary: This is a picture book about colors, but it is all black. It gives insight into how blind people “see” colors. For those of us who know what colors look like, it is so difficult to imagine how blind people see them in their minds. This book describes colors through the four other senses we often take for granted; touch, taste, smell and hearing. The words are written in white and accompanied by Braille. The opposite page depicts the description. The black line drawings are raised in different ways so that the illustrations can be felt. This book gives an idea of what it is like for the blind population on a daily basis. The Braille alphabet is also at the end of the book.

How it could be used: You could use the book to teach how there's many ways to enjoy and experience the world, the five senses and the symbolism of color. In the classroom, I would read the book to the students and have them explore what the pages feel like. I would discuss with them how, when you cannot see something, you can still enjoy and experience it because you can feel it, hear it...I would then discuss the five senses and the way each color was described in the book. I would then have the students think of what each color feels like, sounds them personally, and then have them write poems for each color using the sensory descriptions they came up with.

Domains of Social Justice:
Self Love and Acceptance: Children Learn about their own culture. The book explores color an unconventional way. Since experiencing color affects almost everybody, this exploration helps show the significance of using our other senses to explain something that is traditionally perceived by only one of our senses.
Respect for Others: Strengthens intercultural competence. Because this book focuses on giving an explanation of something we normally visually perceive without giving us the visuals to see it, The Black Book of Colors helps us understand what it may feel like to be blind. It makes the reader aware of the difficulties of explaining something when you cannot see it, but also of the benefits of experiencing something, such as color, in a different way. Also, students are exposed to Braille, the alphabet and reading system that the Blind use.
Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Racism, classism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression are confronted. People do not often think that blind people would fall into a social injustice because being blind does not have anything to do with race or beliefs, but people do not realize that Blind people are oppressed in ways that we take for granted. This is a picture book with illustrations in black and white, something that normally does not appeal to children who like to be visually stimulated. Most books out there, especially for children, rely on illustrations to strengthen its meaning. The Black Book of Colors itself confronts the idea that something as simple as colors should not be excluded from a Blind person’s experience.

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