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 28, 2015

Everybody Cooks Rice

Author: Norah Dooley
Illustrator: Peter J. Thornton
Grade Level: K-2

Buy it here!

Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley is a creative story about what happens when a young girl in search of her brother discovers the commonalities that are shared among her neighbors. While her mother is busy cooking dinner, Carrie is tasked with finding her little brother, Anthony, who she suspects is eating dinner at the neighbor's house. Instead, Carrie finds herself bouncing from house to house in search of her brother, and along the way finds that although her neighbors come from different cultural backgrounds, there is something that unites them all: rice! This heartwarming tale of food and friendliness teaches children of all ages that although we may all be different, we are connected in many ways.

Element 2 - Respect For Others:
Everybody Cooks Rice shares the story of a young girl and her multicultural neighborhood. While mooching off of her neighbors' meals, something Carrie would quickly accuse her brother Anthony of doing, she learns that despite their different cultural and religious backgrounds, each family eats rice! Told through the lens of a young girl on a mission to find her brother, this tale of adventure and surprise embodies what means to love thy neighbor. 
Each family that Carrie encounters has their own unique background, something the readers are made aware of. The author makes it possible for the audience to not only learn about these other cultures, but to appreciate their differences. Norah Dooley does a fantastic job of capitalizing on these differences while simultaneously bringing them together with the one language we all speak: food. Both Carrie and the readers learn to appreciate these differences and to welcome the diversity in those around them. 

I would first read this book to my class. Then, having chosen pairings of two students prior to the activity, separate students into their groups. I would ask each student to talk with their partner about their cultural background, or for those who have trouble with this, simply what types of activities they do at home. Once both partners have shared their stories with each other, they would be tasked with finding something they both have in common. Whether it be that they are both read to at night, or that like the book they both usually eat soup for dinner, the partners would then be asked to draw what this activity looks like.
(i.e. Both partners realize they pray at night. On separate sheets of paper, they would have to draw what that activity looks like. /or/ Both partners realize that they eat chicken noodle soup for dinner. They would each have to draw themselves eating soup on the couch, at the table, or wherever they eat.) After having drawn the activity, the students would all be asked to hang their drawings up on the wall. Doing this would show that although they are all different, they share certain things; and although they share these things, they may not look the same in each household.

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