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

William's Doll

William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow

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This book is about a little boy who wanted a doll more than anything. His brother and other male friends would make fun of him and call him a "sissy" because dolls are typically not for boys. Even his father tried to persuade him to want a beasketball instead, but all William could think about is what his doll would look like. However, his father still bought him a basketball to make him play basketball,and a train set and workbench to try to make him interested in "boy stuff". William played with these things but he still always thought about the doll he wanted. One day, when his grandmother visits, she finally buys William a doll so that he'll take care of it and know how to be a father.
I like this book because it challenges the traditional gender stereotypes that children grow up with. Even before we're born, parents decide on blue for boys and pink for girls (for the most part). Children are told that girls play with dolls and boys play with cars and if girls like cars or boys like dolls, there is something "wrong" with them. This book can show children from an early age that it is ok to like whatever they like and they shouldn't have to hide their interests just because society has made them "gender specific".
In the younger grades I would use the book to highlight that people are different in many ways and have different interests and that you should be proud of who you are and love yourself for you. In the older grades, I would use it to introduce gender roles and possibly discrimination based on gender.
This book would fall under the first 3 social justice stages. It shows children how you can love and accept yourself for who you are. It can show them how to have respect for others and their differences. I included the 3rd stage because I think I could definitely use it an introduction to things like sexism and possibly even homophobia, depending on the class, grade, and how it's integrated.

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