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.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Leo the Late Bloomer

Author: Robert Kraus

Pictures by Jose Aruego

Grade Level: K-5

Element 1: Self love and knowledge

Summary: This book is about a little tiger named Leo who was a late bloomer. He wasn't able to read, write, speak, draw or eat neatly as his friends.  This made him fell very sad, because he wasn't like them. Leo's father gets worried when realizing that Leo is not blooming, he expresses these concerns to Leo's mother who seems unworried and understanding of this situation. The father began to observe Leo and see if any signs of blooming are accruing.  It takes a long time for Leo to finally bloom and when he does he feels so excited.  Leo was able to read, write, draw, and eat properly; his first words were " I Made it". The story ends with feelings of happiness, confidence and a sense of belonging.

Element: This storybook reflects many Social Justice Elements, most importantly elements 1 and 2 :
1- Self-Love and Knowledge: Students learn to love themselves for who they are. They will understand that it is okay if they are growing at a different rate than someone else. It will also raise their self-esteem and confidence levels.
2. Respect for Others: Students learn that in addition to accepting themselves, they have to tolerate others. It is not the appearance that they need to accept, but the characters of the people and who they are.

Activity: This book has a strong lesson to it, the pictures in it told a thousand words, although there were only a few words on some pages. The book works for different grade levels and discusses many social issues of one's sense of belonging as well as self esteem and confidence issues that contribute to many students, especially in diverse school settings. These are some of the reasons why I like and recommend this storybook.
After reading Leo The Late Bloomer out loud to my classroom students I would ask them:
How do you think Leo' parents felt in the beginning of the story and at the end of it?
How would you think Leo felt about not being able to the things his friends could do?
I would encourage children to talk about some new skills they are working to master. Then ask them to describe how they feel when they accomplish their goals. Also, help children recognize the many skills and abilities they have already mastered, as their ability to communicate, demonstrate a wide range of emotion and their physical abilities. I would have children write a list of their own-mastered skills and draw pictures to accompany their list of accomplishments. Display the list and drawings in a proper place in the classroom under a sign that says "We Made It."

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