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 30, 2014

Everyone Matters: A First Look at Respect for Others

Author: Pat Thomas

Everyone Matters is a book that teaches children about respect. The illustrations alone depict children and adults with all kinds of differences; hair color/type, skin color, ability, height, weight, etc. In all pages, kind gestures are being shared between the characters in everyday locations; school, park, home, and streets.  Everyone Matters explains that despite any physical differences, what really matters is what we have in our hearts. It continues by pointing out that there is some respect that must be earned. From keeping promises to loyalty and honesty, Pat Thomas teaches children that respect is a reciprocal concept between members of our society. Respect cannot be forced. To get respect, one must earn it. 

Element Two (Respect for Others):
In Element Two, teachers foster a climate of respect for diversity. What better way to introduce the concept of respect than to read Everyone Matters: A First Look at Respect for Others? Through the illustrations, children see that there are many different kinds of people in this world that do not necessarily look like them,but we should be kind to them. Even if their hometowns do not have too many cultures and races, Everyone Matters, is a perfect tool to emphasize the importance of respect for others, as well as respect for oneself on an everyday basis.

Classroom Use:
This book and the concept of respect can be used in the classroom in various ways. For starters, teachers can introduce the concept by sharing the book with the class. He/she can focus on students' recognition of the pictures in the book. In every page, the teachers can have her students point out the different kinds of people in the pictures. They can continue by explaining what each person is doing in the scenes. After the book is thoroughly read, teachers can ask their students to draw pictures like the ones in the book. Each picture should show people of different characteristics doing kind and respectful gestures for each others. Lastly, they can take activity sheets home to work with their parents so they are aware that respect is not just something for school; it takes place in any location, at any time, with anybody. 

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