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 30, 2013

I Am Mixed

Title: I Am Mixed
Authors: Gracelle Beauvais & Sebastian A. Jones
Illustrator: James C. Webster
Editor: Joshua Cozine
Reading Level: Ages 5-8
Publisher: Stranger Comics, LLC

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"I am mixed is an invaluable teaching tool that all children of all races can learn from." - Halle Berry

I Am Mixed is a children's picture book about two twins, Nia and Jay, who are sharing their story about what it means to be mixed. This book has an important message about culture, race and self-acceptance. It truly encourages readers of all ages and all races to be proud of who they are. It goes beyond the idea of blending two families and incorporates the ideas of culture, language, the traditions you have and the things that are important to your family. Readers will be inspired to explore these parts of their heritage after reading I Am Mixed. In addition to the colorful and fun illustrations, this book holds a powerful message on its pages - you are special and there are many things that make you YOU. Be proud of them.

Element 1 - Self-love and Knowledge:
I Am Mixed is an essential teaching tool for Element 1. The twins share with readers their passion and enthusiasm about loving who you are. Nia shares that members of her class ask her "funny things" like why her hair is bendy and curly when other classmates have straight or thick hair. This confronts the negative stereotypes about her identity and is important in children's learning about Element 1. Jay shares things like "I am an Irish jig to an African beat" and "I am a melting pot of scrumptious treats." This embraces the idea of studying different aspects of your identity and the histories associated with it, which is another crucial part of Element 1. I Am Mixed encourages readers to have a voice and truly embrace the ideas of self-love and knowledge.

Follow-up Activity:
It is important for teachers and parents to follow-up a reading on self-love like this with an activity. This book provides follow-up activities right within its pages which makes it such a great resource! The first activity is having the child draw a self-portrait. Teachers can turn this into an art project for the walls in the classroom. Students will be invited to incorporate skin tone, hair color, and other aspects of their identity. Students can then take their self-portrait and create an "I am from" poem with family members.  They should then be invited to share their poem with classmates. Through these activities, teachers are providing students with an opportunity to learn who they are and where they came from. They will learn about themselves while learning more about their classmates. As a result, students should experience the self-love and knowledge that Nia and Jay have in the story.

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