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

Whoever You Are

Title: Whoever You Are
Author: Mem Fox
Illustrator: Leslie Staub
Grade Level: Pre-K - Grade 2

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Whoever You Are
is a simple yet powerful narrative that addresses diversity while highlighting the vast similarities we share as human beings. Fox’s words urge young readers to reflect upon the human experience to realize that although we may be from different places or have different appearances, we have many more things in common than not. The book takes us on a journey around the globe to give us a small glimpse of other children’s lives and shows us that however far away or seemingly dissimilar they are to us, every human laughs, cries, feels pain, joy, smiles and bleeds. In my future classroom, I would use this book to support lessons pertaining to celebrating diversity. One activity I may do with my students to emphasize the theme of the story is show them different colored eggs and ask my class to note their exterior differences. Then, I would crack the eggs and spill out their contents side by side to show they are the same on the inside, just as humans are. This activity would help students understand the main idea of the story which is the important message that our similarities unite us and we should not let our “shells,” or exteriors, stand in the way of the connection we inherently share.

Element 2: Respect for Others

Whoever You Are
emulates Element 2 as it encourages young minds to look beyond the exterior to see that when it boils down to it, we all feel and experience the same things over the course of our lives regardless of the color of our skin or the language that we speak. This book shows children that although we may live in different places and lead different lives, we are still closely linked simply for the fact that we are human. Therefore, we should treat one another with dignity and respect solely because we are human beings, all other variables put aside. This idea fosters respect between students who may eat different types of food or come from different places from one another. Once this idea is ingrained in them, as they grow, they will remember to value and celebrate one another because ultimately, “hearts are just the same – wherever they are, wherever you are, wherever we are, all over the world.” 

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