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, February 8, 2016

Every Little Thing

Title: Every Little Thing
Author: Cedella Marley
Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Publisher: Chronicle Books (September 12, 2012)
Age Range: 3 - 6
Grade Level: Preschool - 1
For a read aloud, click here!
For reviews, click here!
Click here for more about Cedella Marley!
For more Marley stories, click here!

Summary: Every Little Thing is a picture book for young children with the words from the book being based off of the popular Bob Marley song "Three Little Birds." The main character, who is unnamed, encounters some small struggles throughout his day, but with the help of three birds, he does not let these struggles storm over his happiness. Instead he focuses on spreading kindness to those around him. The main message of this wonderful story is if you share and promote kindness with those around you, even through hardships, we don't have to worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be all right.

Element#2: Respect for Others: Every Little Thing serves as a foundation for teaching respect for not only others but for one's self. This story both in words and pictures embodies kindness, empathy, and acceptance. Not only can you see this families culture psychically with the representations of colors and pictures, but also socially in the main character's actions towards others. Throughout the story we can see the main character face "little" difficulties but instead of letting this affect him, he shares his love and respect with others. Overall you can see through the beautiful illustrations that cultural diversity is embraced and celebrated by not only the main character but also his parents and friends; and to think, all of this was made possible with the help of three little birds. 

Classroom Use: There are a variety of valuable aspects to this book, making is a great resource for teachers. The way in which the book is written allows the teacher to utilize it either for an individual subject area or as an interdisciplinary lesson. Students love music, and teaching about kindness, respect, and empathy can, with use of this book, be taught in Language Arts or Social Studies in a fun and creative way. Reinforcing the ideology presented in this book, I would have students critically think about what these powerful words mean to them and have them create their own picture books similar to the organization of Marley's book. Another idea, that would truly benefit an early childhood teacher who is just beginning to introduce the notions of kindness and respect would be to first do a read aloud using this book and then creating a whole-class list of rules that focus on kindness and respect. The word usage, repetitiveness, and related pictures will make it a great first reading book for students.

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