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 23, 2014

Nina Bonita


 Title: Nina Bonita
 Author: Ana Maria Machado
 Illustrator: Rosana Faria
 Grade Level(s): Preschool-Grade 3
 Ages: 4 and Up
 Buy Me Here!
 SJE: Element 1 Self-love and Knowledge


Nina Bonita tells the story of Nina and her neighbor the white rabbit, who desires to know the secret of Nina's black skin. To the rabbit, Nina's skin is beautiful and he is determine to have children that have Nina's black color. Throughout the story, the rabbit asks Nina "What makes your skin so dark and so pretty? Nina does not know the answer. As a result she tells the rabbit stories, each one stating an act that resulted in her black skin.  He believes her and completes each act. It does not turn his fur black. After three attempts, the rabbit gets the answer to his question from Nina's mother, who tells him that Nina gets her skin color from her grandmother. In the end, the rabbit realizes he would need to marry the right rabbit to have children as beautifully black as Nina. He does just that and has children as of every shade between black and white. 

 How this book represents SJE 1

The message of this book promotes the quote "Black is Beautiful".  This is why I chose it to represent element 1. It not only promotes loving the color of your skin, but it represents black as something beautiful. Most often in our classrooms, children of darker complexions are ridiculed. There are not enough examples that show dark skin as beautiful. This book is charming and it can be used as a self-esteem booster to a child who is struggling with accepting their skin color. It allows students who are darker to see their skin as something to be praised. Their skin color has worth and is beautiful. 

How would I use this book in my classroom

In addition to the reasons I stated above, I would use this book in my class library, as an introduction to genetics in science, and to help answer the questions my students have about the differences they see in their classmates.  Children, especially those in the younger grades, often have questions that relate to the differences they have with their classmates. The answer to the why can be difficult to explain. This story could be used as a launching pad to explain the answer. This lesson plan  can be modified to include this book.

Anything Else 

Overall, I loved this story and cannot wait to have it my classroom. The message of this book is one that is not told to children who have darker skin tone often enough. The boost in self-worth that can come from this book is not only important, but is essential. Furthermore, the simply act of seeing a character of their complexion being referred to as beautiful, can help a student realize that what his or her skin  is not a  source of contempt, but  a source of admiration. 

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