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.

Monday, October 6, 2014

And Tango Makes Three

Title: and tango makes three
Author: Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell
Illustrator: Henry Cole
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This book is based on a true story about two male penguins Roy and Silo, who grew up together in the Central Park Zoo in New York City. The book starts out talking about how many different families are found within the zoo as well as many different families that come to visit the zoo.  The book mentions that there is one couple who stand out, and that is Roy and Silo. Roy and Silo partake in many of the activities that normal couples do, and they spend much of there time together.  They see the male and female penguins sitting on eggs, so they try to do the same but with rocks.  When this does not seem to work, a zoo keeper gives Roy and Silo their very own egg that needed tending to.  Roy and Silo take turns  sitting on it and protecting it as as their own child.  They took care of this egg day in and day out until it hatched! The zoo keeper was able to make Roy and Silo's dream come true.  They finally had their own baby to love and care for.  They named him Tango.  Most importantly Roy, Silo and their baby Tango were able to do everything every normal couple and family in the Central Park Zoo could do. 

Element 3: Social Injustices 
It is first important to notice the fact that this book celebrates diversity among the many family dynamics we have today in our culture. There are a plethora of issues of social injustices in our world, and homophobia is one of the many. It is important that we expose our students to the different family dynamics at a young age.  Some students might even have two mommies or two daddies. On the other hand, students who are brought up in a heterosexual family might not even no a homosexual family exists. It is important for students to first realize that homophobia exists, and is not accepted by all people. By reading this story, you are showing your students that a true family equals love, care and affection. Having two mommies or two daddies does not make a family any worse or better. Instead, this book proves that it is ok to be different than the typical "norm" our society sets. Stereotypes exists everywhere, and it is our jobs as educators to expose our children to these social injustice issues such as homophobia at a young age so that they can embrace diversity in a positive way. 

Classroom Use:
1. I would have students go home and draw a picture of who represents their family. They would write a paragraph about the people in their family and share this with the class the next day.  This allows students in the classroom to see the different family structures and dynamics that exist within their very own classroom.

2.  Teachers can also open the floor for discussion and create a chart about the different family qualities that Roy, Silo and Tango had.  What makes them the same? What makes them different? Why is being different ok?  These are all questions educators can open for discussion. Then educators can get into a discussion about the meaning of family. 

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