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

The Color of Us

Book Title: The Color of Us
Author: Karen Katz
Illustrator: Karen Katz
Grade Level: Grades K-2
Buy the book here!
Helpful ideas of how to use The Color of Us in classrooms!
Social Justice Element: Element 2- Respect for Others

The Color of Us is a children's book that takes its readers on a journey learning about types of skin colors, specifically the different shades of brown. Karen Katz, the author, dedicated this book to her adopted daughter, Lena, from Guatemala. In this book, seven year old Lena is learning how to mix colors by her mother who is an artist. When Lena comments that brown is brown, her mother takes her on a walk around their neighborhood to show her all the unique shades of brown that people's skin can be. She compares Lena's skin to cinnamon and herself to french toast. This colorful book takes us on a tasty adventure comparing the different shades of brown to yummy foods and flavors in a way that makes its readers appreciate all the different colors people's skin can be. At the end of the book, Lena creates a portrait of everyone in their neighborhood with all the beautiful shades of brown that she discovered.

Representation of Social Justice Element: 
The Color of Us introduces children to all the different colors of people from different backgrounds in a creative and unique way. This book is a great way to implement Element 2: Respect for Others in to a classroom. All of the different skin colors are compared to delicious foods and treats in a manner that is child friendly and relative to their lives. Karen Katz wrote this book in a way that allows her readers to find the appreciation in peoples differences. Each race and ethnicity of Lena's neighbors are portrayed in a positive light that shows the beauty in all skin colors.

Classroom Activity:
One way that this book can be used to instill respect for others in the classroom would be to create a class portrait after reading with all the students different skin colors like Lena did with her painting of the people in her neighborhood. Not only would this activity raise awareness in students about the subtle differences in people's skin colors, but would also be an opportunity to post it in the classroom to highlight all the unique qualities and backgrounds of each students. By hanging the class portrait you can create a more welcoming environment that invites students to appreciate the differences in skin colors and races of their classmates.

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