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, November 18, 2014

The Skin I'm In: A First Look At Racism

Title: The Skin I'm In: A First Look At Racism 
Author: Pat Thomas
Grade Level: Early Elementary
Social Justice Element: Element 5 Raising Awareness
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"The Skin I'm In" introduces children to the idea of racism. The book is colorful with many illustrations of children, they begin by imagining a world where every one had blue eyes. Then it plagues the question, "What if only the children with blue eyes could go to school?" The author makes a point to question the fairness of this treatment. The book defines the word racism and explains why it is bad giving examples of both blatant and subtle racism. The book even delves into what to do if you see racist behavior and how to react if you are the one 0n the receiving end. After the story ends, there is a page on how to use the book followed by contacts and further reading.

Social Justice Element:

"The Skin I'm In" is a great book for teachers to use to introduce element 5 and raise awareness in their classrooms about racism. Every student is different and it is important for them to understand that everyone is created equal. Equally as important, students must learn what is an appropriate way to respond to racism. This book is a great resource for teachers because there is no specific group being represented, every demographic is covered. The book is written for everyone so that everyone can relate, it builds an understanding of equality.

In-Class Activity:

 In order to raise awareness amongst young students, it is essential that the material is relatable. Students can first listen to the story being read out-loud, followed by a discussion on what the believe racism is and why they think people are treated unfairly solely based on the color of their skin. It is a great way to probe students about racism and what they understood about the books message. Following the class discussion, have the students draw a picture of their family. I would allow students 20 minutes to write a few paragraphs on what their personal thoughts on racism. By raising awareness about racism in the classroom, students will not only learn about what racism is but also how they can make sure they know how to react if they encounter a racist.

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