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.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hands Are Not for Hitting

Title: Hands Are Not for Hitting

Author: Martine Agassi

Illustrator: Marieka Heinlen

Age Range: 12 months - 4 years

Grade Level: Preschool - Kindergarten

Hands Are Not for Hitting is a book from the “Best Behavior” series that explains the appropriate uses of our hands. It focuses on positive actions that can be done with hands like waving, drawing and playing.  The constant repetition of the title “Hands are not for hitting,” followed by the question “What are hands for?” is a useful technique to remind the child of the message being portrayed. Each page is accompanied by colorful illustrations that demonstrate all the acceptable, and daily uses of our hands. While there are not many words throughout the book, the simplicity is what makes the message clear to the child. This book addresses the issue of violence and makes it clear to the child that it is not an acceptable thing to practice. Additionally, at the end of the book there is a section dedicated to parents with suggestions and tips for reducing anger and violence in their child.
Note: The paperback version of this book goes into more detail about why hitting is not acceptable. It explains to the reader why we get angry and suggests different actions that can be done to cope with the anger.

Element 5: Raising Awareness:
Hands Are Not for Hitting is a great children’s book that addresses the common act of hitting in toddlers and children. Many preschool/kindergarten teachers and parents struggle with the issue of hitting with children and how to handle this so-called phase. This book addresses hitting and anti-violence in a simple way that children of a young age would understand.  Hands Are Not for Hitting uses a positive approach by providing different ways that hands are actually used for. The illustrations make it clear to the child that hitting is not something that should be done. The issue of hitting is raised in the beginning and is constantly repeated throughout the book, letting the reader know that we do not use our hands to hit.

Classroom Ideas:
This book is a great resource for setting or reminding students of classroom rules and appropriate behavior. A lesson can be formed from the title message “hands are not for hitting” and can further lead to a discussion on what can be done instead of hitting another friend or adult. Young children struggle daily with understanding their emotions, so this book can also act as a segue for learning how to control emotions and what to do when one feels a certain emotion building up. 

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