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.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Element 2: Respect for Others

Different Just Like Me
Author/Illustrator: Lori Mitchell
Grade Level: P-3
Element 2: Respect for Others
Different Just like Me written by Lori Mitchell, is an excellent book to read to children in order to explore the diverse groups of people in the world around them. This is a great example for the younger ages (P-3) since the book is written in a context that is easy to understand, and has inviting pictures on each page corresponding to the text. This wonderful book is a story about a young girl named April who is excited about visiting her grandma, but has a week ahead before her and her mother visit. Throughout the week, April comes across a range of diverse people while she assists her mother in town to do a few things. For example, April sees a lady who reads with her fingers, a girl who talks via sign language, a women who is in a wheelchair, and a group of people who all speaks different languages. As she notices these differences, April realizes that these differences make each person unique just like her.
I chose this book because it reflects the second element of social justice: “Respect for Others”. This book sets a respectful climate as it introduces the concept of acceptance for the uniqueness of others. That is, each person is exceptional and has a talent to share with the world. I really enjoyed this book because it promotes a glimpse into the lives of different people and how they like us share common aspects and ambitions. April’s ability to look past the differences and show of respect to each person and their qualities can teach young children a valuable lesson. Children can learn to respect not only their own cultural groups, but also the cultural groups of others. This was a positive representation of the many types of groups that make up the community and society in which we live in and can remind children to celebrate their differences because that is what makes each of us so special.
In the classroom:
This book can introduce the students to appreciate their own culture and the culture of others. Students can make connections to their own lives with confidence but before they can do this they need to be aware of their own culture and physical characteristics.
Instructional Procedure:
Start the lesson by introducing the book Different Just like Me. Before reading the story, ask the students if they know what the word difference means. Explain to them that we are all different; we have different colors of hair, eyes, skin, and cultures. Begin to read the story, and while reading, ask the students if they notice any differences in the characters. After reading the book and discussing the differences do a quick activity examining the differences and similarities of the students. Ask students what color eyes they have, color of their hair, if they are left handed or right handed, etc. To continue element two: "respect for others" have students go home and gather a few items that represent themselves and their culture in a large brown bag. For example, a picture of their family, their favorite food, something they like to do with their family and friends, etc. In class during circle time, have as a whole group activity allowing each child to pull items out of their bags and explaining it's significance. Make sure to use positive statements of similarities and differences and ensure that students do, as well. The discussion will help the children get to know and appreciate each other. It also will help students realize that each person is unique. The more differences that children are exposed to, the more open and accepting they are as they grow.

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