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, October 7, 2014

I Am Jazz

Author: Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings
Illustrator: Shelagh McNicholas
Grade Level: K-4


I Am Jazz is a children's book about a little girl who is trapped in a boy's body. Ever since Jazz can remember she loved mermaids, dressing up, and makeup. She explains her struggles and obstacles that she had with her parents, school, and society. After being taken to the doctor's and being told she was transgender, her life changed completely. This is based on a true story of a little girl named Jazz who talks about overcoming all obstacles with the help of her family. She is now an inspiration to many other children who are also transgender! 

Element 2: Respect for Others

I Am Jazz explores the topic of human diversity and stereotypes. This book is great for Element 2 not only because it touches upon a diverse type of people, but also because it touches upon one of the least heard topics, transgender. I Am Jazz is about a little girl who is trapped in a boys body. After being diagnosed transgender, Jazz's life changed completely. The story talks about how Jazz felt when she wanted to be a girl so bad but her parents didn't understand until they took her to a doctor. The book also talks about many obstacles that they overcame and still have to overcome with society. This is a perfect book to read to students so they can learn to listen with kindness and empathy. This is also a great book because we can show children that not everyone is the same, and it is okay to be different.  


In I Am Jazz, Jazz talks about what she loves to do and what makes her unique and special. I would show small clips of her documentary showing the struggles to support what the book was saying. One clip I would show would be the one where the school board does not let her play in the girls soccer games even though she is in the team. I would then have students write a letter to the Board of Education, like Jazz's father did in the video, explaining why Jazz should be allowed to play. I would conclude my lesson by stating the importance of spreading awareness on the acceptance of being different. After all, we want our children to grow up with an open mind ready for the future.

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