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

Little Blue and Little Yellow

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni

This is the story of two best friends: little blue and little yellow. They go to school and play everyday until one day they can't find each other. Finally, they reunite and the two friends hug until little blue and little yellow both become little greens! They go home and are rejected by their parents who do not recognize their own children! Not wanted in their own homes little blue and little yellow meet again and cry. Their tears change little blue and little yellow back to their original colors. Little blue speeds off to explain everything to his parents who are so overjoyed that they go running across the street to tell little yellow's parents. Then their parents end up hugging until they themselves turn green.

This book is a story of friendship, differentness and (in)tolerance. The attributes of two best friends meld into a new form and that differentness. This book would be a great tool to begin to integrate social justice into the early grades because the book is short and the plot is simple and the text is accessible to young independent readers. Also, the simplicity of the story is carried over into the artwork which can easily tell a story without the words the pages.

How would I use the book/curriculum units
In the earlier grades this book is a great tool on friendship. A little of you rubs off on your friend and a little of your friends rub off on you. And you might change a bit, but you're still you on the inside.

With older students it can be a lesson on racial tolerance. What happens when you mix all the colors? You get this blackish color. If you squeeze that through a prism you get white. And all the other colors in-between. Why isn't it alright for mama and papa blue to have a green son? Speak of families and skin color. A literal mix of races and colors as well as the mesh of different cultures. The cultural differences between different cultures of the same skin color.

Domains of Social Justice
1. Self-love and acceptance: Children learn about their own culture
Students learn to be proud of who they are through little blue and little yellow

2. Respect for Others: Strengthens intercultural competence
Students learn that there is nothing wrong with being friends with people who are different and that is also okay to be different yourself.

3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Racism, classism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression are confronted
Students see how even little blue and little yellow's parents reacted to their own children because they were different. But then see how they learned to accept that difference and even became different themselves.

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