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



Written and Illustrated by Peter Spier

People is an excellent book to use in the classroom to expose students to the differences in people from around the world. Spier's book sends the message that everyone has the right to be different and that people should be proud of their differences. Spier examines an array of characteristics that make human beings unique. His words and illustrations show the differences in physical traits (body size, skin color, eye color, hair style), clothing styles, interests, dwellings, holidays, foods, religions, and languages of individuals from many cultures. At the end of the book, Spier asks the reader to imagine how dull the world would be if everybody looked, thought, ate, dressed, and acted the same. This book makes you think about how wonderful it is that each one of us is unlike any other.

Anne Marie and Bree pointed out one area to watch out for: towards the end of the book, Spier writes about the different kinds of leaders. We noticed that the illustrations for this page are all of white males. When using this book in the classroom, it might be beneficial to discuss this or to skip the page entirely.

I think this book touches on the first three levels of social justice. When reading this book, children and adults consider their own cultures. They also learn about cultures that are different than their own. Spier helps his readers realize the importance of differences in the world.

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