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

The Family Book
Author:  Todd Parr
Grade Level:  Pre-K through First Grade

Summary:  It seems as if the definition of family is always changing, reflecting the times as well as our culture and experiences.  Winner of the 2004 Openheim Toy Portfolio Best Book Award, The Family Book, by Todd Parr is a wonderful introduction for readers and children alike to understand what a family really is and how many interpretations and characteristics that encompass each of our own families.  Parr finds a way to simply state all of the wonderful similarities and differences that we may see amongst our neighbors and friends demonstrated in the first three pages: “Some families are the same color.  Some families are different colors.  All families like to hug each other!”  The Family Book is a wonderful way for children to be exposed to all the possibilities of a family and to learn acceptance of those families who may seem different than theirs.

Element 1:  The Family Book is a great example of Element One, one of self-love and knowledge, because it allows children to see their family represented along with other representations of a family.  Throughout the book the reader is presented with many different types of families and what may be different from one family may be familiar to another.  This gives a child the ability to see that his or her situation is “normal” and is illustrated as a family in words and pictures, rather than questioning why they are different from others.

Activity:  Before any activity, I would read this book aloud to my students.  I would be sure to explain why this book is so important for them to understand that a family can be defined in so many ways so that they feel comfortable with the differences they may feel are atypical.  I would have them draw a picture of their residence (a house, apartment, single family home, etc.) and give them magazines, newspapers and books that they can cut from and create a collage of how they want to represent their family.  Afterwards, I would ask them to present their collages to the class or group and explain their family, where do they live, who lives with them and to explain the relationships with their family members.   In the end, I would hope that my students recognize that although we all have different families, there will always be similarities in the way we love and celebrate one another.

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