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, September 21, 2015

Chrysanthemum: Element I: Self-Love and Knowledge

Title: Chrysanthemum

Author: Kevin Henkes

Illustrated By: Kevin Henkes

Publisher: Inc. SCHOLASTIC

Purchase Chrysanthemum on Amazon!

Find out more about Kevin Henkes here!

"Chrysanthemum" is the story of a little mouse that loves her name and is about to start school for the first time. It is not until she begins school where she first encounters discrimination by the other students because of her name. Chrysanthemum quickly begins to hate her name and dreads going to school in fear of being teased. Eventually, Chrysanthemum and the other students learn that their favorite art teacher also has a name similar to Chrysanthemum's. The students realize then, that it is not such a bad thing to have a name that is different than their own.

Element I: Self-Love and Knowledge:
This story would go perfectly with element I about self-love and knowledge because it discusses the issue of how one may feel about being different than the group. Chrysanthemum used to love her name until she comes to school where she finds out that it is very different than the names of her other classmates. However, by the end of the story, Chrysanthemum learns that she should not feel sad about having a different name because it is what makes her unique. Everyone is different from one another and everyone may also have similarities with one another. Chrysanthemum's name is what makes her different and loving one's differences is important to do. The story promotes readers to embrace who they are and to not be ashamed.

Follow-Up Activity:
"Chrysanthemum"could be good to read by the teacher on the first day of school. Students can share their names after the story is read and maybe also share where their name comes from or why they were named that name. Students will learn that everyone has their own individual name or maybe they share the same name with someone else. This could be a good activity for the students to get to know one another and feel more comfortable about their own names. The students can then create posters with their names on them to present to the class. Perhaps the students can add other pictures to the poster that also represent their name or what their names means to themselves.

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