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, September 8, 2008

Dancing in the Wings

Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen

Sassy is a young aspiring ballet dancer. Her efforts are thwarted by her big feet, long legs, and her instructor who despises her bright yellow leotard. By the end of the story, Sassy learns to love herself as she is and succeeds in her efforts to become a dancer.

I enjoy this book because the protagonist, Sassy, is not the typical blue-eyed, graceful character. Instead we see a realistic kid struggling with issues of self image and with those who doubt her true abilities. Yet, against all the odds against her, Sassy is able to love herself for who she is and this acceptance brings her the strength she needs to succeed and "dance in the wings."
Activities/Curriculum Connections:
1. The class can create a collective poster by writing every one's dreams on it and hanging it on the wall as a reminder that everyone is working towards their dreams.
2. Students can perform and coordinate a ballet recital or any other performance they want to do.
3. Students can learn all about the hard work dancers have to go through by calculating the amount of hour of practice they go through. They can even compare this number to the amount of time regular people should exercise and see if they meet the physical requirement.

Social Justice Education:
This books ties in with Self-Love and Acceptance as they learn to love and accept themselves for who they are as Sassy did in the story.
Respect for Others: Students learn that the physical defects of others should not be used against them to put them down, but rather learn to accept and respect others as they are.
Social Justice: Students learn that singling people out because they have big feet or long legs or other defects is not fair and should be ended.

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