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Defining Cultural Identity: Thinking Outside the Box

Stephanie J. Sheehan

Contents of Curriculum Unit 05.02.09:

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The purpose of this unit is to enable young students to identify themselves and others with regard to many complex factors, including race, ethnicity, physical appearance and ability, gender, and family structure. The students will understand themselves better, become better prepared to accept people who are different from themselves, and learn to refrain from making assumptions about people by way of external examination. The secondary goal is to create a tone of harmony among classmates and multicultural appreciation. This unit will meet the needs of our school's magnet theme: Celebrating Literacy through the Arts, Technology, and Multiculturalism.


I teach first grade at Davis Street Inter-District Magnet School in New Haven, Connecticut. Multiculturalism is a very important thread throughout our curriculum, including a school-wide initiative of international study. On the other hand, our school, and consequently, my classroom, is comprised of about 95 percent African American students. The school is a "free lunch" school with a majority of its student body comprised of families from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Since we are an inter-district magnet school, the students do have some opportunity to meet students from other towns, but for the most part, the students are from the same type of neighborhood, economic background, race, and even religion. The students do not have very many opportunities to learn about people different from themselves through peer interactions or community activities. I aim to provide these opportunities through engaging multicultural literature. Though many cultures will be studied within this unit, the most emphasis will be on African American people, with some emphasis on Latino, White, and Biracial people, in order to reflect the racial backgrounds of my students. In addition to teaching about people from other places and ethnicities, I will encourage open communication in class, in order to allow the students to discover differences among themselves, such as family structures, traditions, and hobbies.

At Davis School, there has been a great emphasis recently on reading and writing in order to address a need to improve scores on state-mandated tests. Much of our teaching time is spent working on literacy skills, especially responding to literature. Therefore, in order to maximize the time I have to teach social studies, I have utilized multicultural literature to integrate the social studies themes with the required literacy activities to form the basis of most of the lessons for this unit.

This curriculum unit is designed for first grade students, but the content could easily be extended to teach students from first to fifth grade. In order to adapt the curriculum for older children, the reading could be supplemented with longer and more challenging texts. The students could delve much deeper into terminology and history and they would be expected to write with much more depth.

The students I teach are usually between the ages 5 ˝ and 7 ˝, and have a wide range of abilities in verbal, written, and comprehension skills. Some of my students enter first grade able to write complete sentences and read fairly fluently. Others know only some of the sounds and letters of the alphabet. For this reason, I start the year by teaching and reviewing letters, sounds, and skills for looking at and reading books. During social studies, I reinforce basic literacy skills, sequencing, and story elements using choral question and answer format. This allows advanced students to participate proudly and help less advanced students to learn without feeling self-conscious.

I am fortunate to have an assistant teacher. This is an asset in terms of individualizing instruction and providing extra support for small groups or individual children that need it. This allows me to move more freely from student to student offering feedback specific to each based upon his or her abilities. For instance, more advanced students often need extra suggestions in order to extend their work to a higher level, and lower level students might need the work broken into steps, with immediate feedback as they work.

This year-long curriculum unit consists of four ten-week mini-units: one for each marking period. It is to be implemented at least two to three times a week, for approximately 30-60 minutes per lesson. Each section of the unit corresponds to one of four themes that build understanding of cultural identity and provide a natural avenue to teach interpersonal respect and communication. The four themes are: Family and Me, Community and Traditions, African American History, and Celebrating Diversity.

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In a class discussion, I recently found myself stressing the point that culture is more than the color of one's skin and that people may define themselves in ways that are not visible on the surface. I listened with dismay as the students in my class reduced their rich identities to simply Black or White. As students blurted out comments such as, "I'm Black but my mom's White," or "You're White," I realized the need for the students to learn about the complexities of personal identification. The unit I've created will address this need. In order to ensure that it is age-appropriate and psychologically sound, I've extensively consulted the work of Beverly Tatum, Ph.D., and John W. Santrock, Ph.D. Please refer to the Resources section for more information.

According to Dr. Santrock, identity formation is a life-long endeavor that begins with self- recognition at about 18 months of age and does not end until personal reflection in old age (544). Therefore, it would be unreasonable to expect students to fully understand identity as a result of one unit. By the end of the year, I would like the students to be exposed to people who may be different from them in various ways, to avoid prejudice as much as possible, to learn some additional ways to describe themselves, and to develop a sense of self -pride.

Young children are often unsure of who they are and how to describe themselves to others. I've found that at the beginning of the year, first graders can usually make a few statements about what they look like as well as some foods or activities they enjoy. Santrock states that self-definitions in early childhood are usually reflections of the physical self and sometimes physical activities (366-368), but by the age of 7, children begin to describe themselves in psychological rather than only physical ways and they are also much more likely to describe themselves in terms of comparison to others (434-435). The students in my class will practice relating to others throughout the year as they compare themselves to one another and to characters from books.

According to Dr. Tatum, by the time children enter school, they develop "an understanding of race or ethnicity which is concrete and associated with specific markers-the language one speaks, the foods one eats, the physical characteristics one has" (179). The term race refers to category of "people who perceive themselves and are perceived by others as possessing distinctive hereditary traits" and ethnicity refers to a category of "people who perceive themselves and are perceived by others as sharing cultural traits"(179). The conversation I quoted earlier from my own classroom showed me that the children were definitely aware of race and color, but it also demonstrated that as first grade students, they were still forming ideas about racial identity and did not understand the ways that adults categorize people. For example, one student referred to his African American mother as White because of her light skin tone. In fact, the idea of race constancy, that a person's race will not change during his life, is generally just being formed between ages 6-7 (Tatum 43), so teachers should not be surprised or concerned if they hear students make comments such as, "My mom says that if I keep going in the sun I'll turn black." Nonetheless, teachers need to be careful about the language used in class.

In this narrative as well as in the classroom, I use the word White to refer to people of European descent. In American society, Whites are the majority group, which is defined as the one that has the "power to determine the values and norms of society to set public policy." The minority groups are the ones that "have inferior power and access to resources" (A. Hancock). Therefore, as part of the majority group, the key issue for healthy identity formation for White children in American society is developing a realistic sense of pride in their cultural heritage without being consumed by ideas of superiority and inferiority, or shame (Tatum 107). I believe that exposure to positive images of White people through literature and opportunities to compare and contrast characters of many races with their own experiences will enable young White children to develop positive self-image and an understanding that people are not inferior or superior due to their physical characteristics or group membership.

I use the word Black to refer to people of African descent. Though this categorization may at times be confusing to young children depending on the physical traits they see, I use it in order to include African American people of all skin tones as well as people of African descent from outside the US. I explain that White and Black are not terms that relate to the actual color of someone's skin, but words that describe groups of people based on where their ancestors came from and physical features. Black children face many obstacles in terms of forming positive racial identity in our society. Therefore, it is important to encourage students to discuss their concerns, to observe positive Black role models and to see positive images of Black people. It is important to give all children the knowledge ammunition, so to speak, to prevent them from becoming susceptible to believing prejudiced ideas, even though they are bound to be exposed to them.

I use the word Latino to refer to a large, diverse group of people, including Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans, Central Americans, South Americans, and people from Spain. It is important to impart to children the idea that the use of one word for people of this ethnic group does not accurately represent the great diversity among people from so many countries and traditions. It is important for teachers to be aware of the specific country or region a book has been written about and be careful not to make generalizations. If it is not possible to know exactly what Spanish-speaking country a book intends to portray, it is an opportunity to discuss the fact that Spanish is spoken in many places, including the US, and talk to the students about the danger of making assumptions about someone's culture simply based on looks or the words one speaks. It is also important for teachers to respect the native languages of children learning English and encourage fluency in both languages. Tatum stresses the link between the Spanish language and Latino identity formation, and the value of the native language in terms of passing on family values. In fact, research shows that developing skills in one's native language also tends to have a positive impact on learning a new language (139-143).

I use the term Biracial to describe people for whom the parents represent more than one race. Although the term applies to children of many types of racial combinations, Black-White combinations are the most controversial, due to the long history of the racial tension between Whites and Blacks in our country, including the only recently changed rule of determining racial category by hypo-descent, or the "one-drop" rule of determining anyone with 1/32 Black ancestry to be Black (Tatum 168). In my experience, I've found that Biracial children are sometimes the last frontier of openly verbal negativity among people that would not necessarily describe themselves as prejudiced. I agree with Tatum when she states, "It is common to hear Black and White adults alike justify their ambivalence toward or outright disapproval of interracial relationships because of their concerns about the hardship the children of these relationships are assumed to suffer" (Tatum 172). Whether these concerns are valid or not, some factors have been linked with positive psychological outcomes for Biracial children. In addition to several factors that teachers cannot control, positive race consciousness and being able to discuss identity issues have a positive effect (Tatum 172-175). In first grade, although Biracial children may have some understanding of what it means to belong to more than one racial group, mono-racial peers may not understand that people can belong to more than one racial group at the same time. This may cause uncomfortable conversations and ultimately may lead to self-esteem issues for the Biracial children (Tatum 179-191). By including positive examples of interracial families in the literature and opportunities to discuss multiracial issues, I intend for this unit to help provide a positive self- image for Biracial children and encourage other children to develop positive images of interracial families as well.

According to Santrock, children in early elementary school begin to develop social identity, which is the understanding of the self as part of a group. Group identity formation often brings issues of ethnocentrism, which is "the tendency to favor one's own group over other groups," and sometimes prejudice. Prejudice is defined as "an unjustified negative attitude toward an individual because of that person's membership in a group" (438). I've found that children in first grade generally do not know what prejudice is, and it can be tricky to explain. I explain that prejudice is having a bad feeling about someone or something without really knowing enough to make that decision. To illustrate this concept, I begin by telling a fictional story about a friend who said mean things about dogs, including my own, because a dog in her neighborhood bit someone. I explain that I felt disappointed that she did not give my gentle, friendly dog a chance. I go on to say that sometimes people don't give other people a fair chance to show who they are inside. For example, sometimes people think badly of a whole group of people, which could be teachers, people with brown eyes, or even people from a certain neighborhood. I then ask the children how they would feel about someone who doesn't like people with brown eyes. Some of the children quickly respond that they know good people who have brown eyes. I then ask them to determine if it is fair to decide not to like someone before you've met him or her. They begin to see that knowing one aspect of someone's identity does not provide enough information to judge the person and that knowing something about some members of a group does not make it true for all group members. This complex idea must be continually reinforced.

Prejudice is a frequent byproduct of misleading information as well as a lack of accurate information about groups of people. We are so bombarded by stereotypes in the media and even in the conversations of loved ones, that even young students have a lot to learn, and possibly quite a bit to unlearn as well. Beverly Tatum offers a compelling example of this when she tells of a group of three- and four-year-olds who were asked to draw pictures of Native Americans. They were confused until the term Indian was used, and then they all drew pictures of people with feathers. Many children also included a weapon such as a tomahawk and showed the person acting aggressively (4). In spite of the prominence of negative and stereotypical portrayals in books and media, children can learn to question the images and the roles of the people they see if they have adults who are willing to discuss these things with them (Tatum 49). I feel that it is important for children to be empowered as young as possible to speak up against words or images that make them or others feel badly. It is almost inevitable that children will hear words of prejudice at some point, so it important to help them see that everything they hear is not necessarily right and to provide positive words and images about various groups of people, in order to counteract the negative ones.

It is important for teachers to be aware that the problem of prejudice can be so pervasive that, "even a member of a stereotyped group may internalize the stereotypical categories about his or her own group to some degree," which is called internalized oppression (Tatum 6). For example, some Black children are exposed to messages from the media and even within some families that propose the superiority of having a "whiter" look, including straighter hair and lighter skin and other children are singled out for simply having a look that is darker or lighter than the rest of the family (Tatum 44). For all children, it is important to be very careful not to over-emphasize the beauty of any particular look and avoid statements that reflect negatively on racially identifiable traits (Tatum 45-46). It is important for children to see that there are many ways to look beautiful and many beautiful looks even within each racial community.

It is also important to understand that racism in America is more than prejudice, but a system of privileges to one race and disadvantages to others. The privileges range from the minor conveniences of not being viewed as an example of one's race, to much more important advantages such as better access to health care, housing and loans (Tatum 7-8). Teachers need to be sensitive to the special challenges that children may face as heirs to this system and help provide the skills and confidence they will need to succeed. In addition to self-image problems that arise as a result of racism, minority children often face poverty as well. According to Santrock, these children may experience socioeconomic stress, which is the stress poverty creates for children and their families. Specifically, "Chronic life conditions such as inadequate housing, dangerous neighborhoods, burdensome responsibilities, and economic uncertainties are potent stressors in the lives of the poor" (367). Racism and socioeconomic stress often have significant impact on children's performance in school. Many teachers have lower academic and behavioral expectations for lower-class and minority students. They may spend less time trying to communicate with their families, and may provide less help and more criticism than they give their White or middle-class students. Conversely, some well-meaning but equally detrimental teachers offer affection instead of challenges and high standards (431-433). Teachers have great influence in the elementary school years and play an important role in fostering self-esteem and encouraging abilities (430). Therefore, it is imperative to create a positive learning environment, uphold high expectations, and help students set high standards for themselves. It is also important to provide positive images of minority figures and teach about heroes that reflect the students' own cultures.

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Overall Objectives

My objectives fall into three areas: content, social development, and skills. Students will expand their knowledge of many cultures, including their own and ethnicities different from their own. Students will grow socially by learning to talk openly about culture and identity without fear or disrespect and they will learn to listen and accept the viewpoints of others, understanding that there can be more than one "right" interpretation for the same thing. They will also build both listening and reading comprehension skills. By the end of the unit, the students will increase vocabulary, build public speaking skills, and feel comfortable sharing their own stories and opinions. They will reflect on what they've learned using a variety of responses including writing, discussion, art, and technology.

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Tremendous writing development takes place throughout the first grade year and varies greatly from child to child. The types of writing will not change very significantly throughout the year. The greatest changes will be the amount of time and support given to the children and the amount of writing and revising that will be expected. Generally speaking, in the beginning of the year, writing will consist of a detailed drawing and a few words, which will gradually increase to a complete sentence. By the middle of the year, the students will be expected to write at least two complete sentences. By the end of the year, the students will be able to write reasonably well-developed stories, and revise them based upon teacher editing to create published work. The strategies I will use to teach my unit are based on this kind of progress in skill development.

Read Aloud Stories

The teacher reads a story, with pauses for relevant discussion questions. This is a great way for students to hear language and stories that they are not yet ready to read on their own, as well as to build vocabulary and comprehension strategies. Through read aloud, children may explore new genres with guidance and learn about new cultures, characters, and situations. There are two implementations of the read aloud strategy, that build other literacy skills: the think aloud strategy and story mapping.

The think aloud strategy allows me to teach students to make inferences and build basic reading skills. In order to introduce inference making, I may express my own opinions about the characters and events and then give the students opportunities to do the same. At times, I will give my own opinion only after hearing several students' points of view. To improve students' reading skills such as "decoding," I read part of a sentence, cover the next word and talk about what it might be based on context and the first letter, commenting on several possibilities until I "think" of one that makes sense.

Story mapping is a form of book report, which includes sequencing events and identifying story elements such as setting, characters, problem, solution, and main idea. The students take turns telling part or all of the story's events and the remainder of the class judges the accuracy of the information that has been presented. This activity should be done often as a group, both orally and in writing, to model and reinforce the skills necessary for completing story maps independently, which will be expected by mid-year.

Shared Reading

The use of big books with large print allows students to read stories together. The students read chorally as the teacher points to the words. This activity is ideal for working on fluency, comprehension, retelling familiar stories, and many other reading strategies.

Shared Writing

Shared writing is an activity in which the children brainstorm ideas about what to write with the help of the teacher and the teacher records the ideas on a large piece of chart paper. This enables the children to "write" with guidance and see their ideas on paper with proper spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation.

Written Response to Text

At least three times a week, students are required to practice writing responses to literature that resemble the types of writing they will face on state-mandated tests. There are several types of questions for first grade. For each question, the students read or hear a story, have an opportunity to re-tell the main events aloud and discuss the book as a group. They are able to look at teacher-modeled writing (for another book), and the students are familiarized with a rubric that shows the criteria for each score. At first, students give responses aloud and listen to my critique before writing. As they become more familiar with each type of question, they work more independently. After writing, the students read their responses aloud. The group is given an opportunity to practice using the rubric to determine the score and explain what was done right or what should have been done to obtain a perfect score. As another follow-up, I select the best writing samples from the class, read them aloud, and congratulate the writers publicly.

Making Connections

This is a reading comprehension strategy, which is integral to this unit and is also the first required written response. When making connections, students are asked to think about what has happened in a given story or situation. They have to tell the story of something that happened to them that was similar and give examples from both their experience and the story in order to support the connection.

Writing Personal Memoirs

Students write elaborated narrative stories based upon their own experiences. These stories are edited with comments, and returned to students to revise for publishing.

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Classroom Activities

*Please refer to the Resources section for an annotated listing of literature relating to the themes presented within this unit.


In order to introduce the year-long focus of understanding identity and provide a base from which to teach and later assess, the children will draw, write about, and introduce themselves verbally. Then they will describe what they think they know about certain groups of people. Please refer to Lesson Plan 1 for details.

Theme 1: Family and Me

Through multicultural literature, conversation, writing, and drawing, I will challenge the children to see differences and similarities among families of many sizes and cultures, and assign many speaking and writing exercises to help them make connections between their own lives and those of the characters in the stories.

I will start this section of my unit with a read aloud of a book about families. Please see Lesson Plan 2. Next, I will ask the students to make connections to a book that depicts a loving, African American family, called In My Momma's Kitchen. Then, students will have an opportunity to share their connections out loud and discuss similarities and differences among their own experiences.

I will then address the theme of unconditional parent/child love. I will read aloud two similar stories in which children from different cultures want to know how much their mothers love them. We will talk about why someone might keep asking his mother if she would still love him. The children will respond to the stories by drawing themselves doing or being something unbearable and asking the parents if they still love them. The students will label their picture and write a short sentence about it. We will discuss how the families look and act differently and the similarities of their feelings.

The next theme will be fatherly love. I will begin by reading poems and ask the children to comment on them and share stories about their own fathers. The children will write about their fathers with drawings and sentences, using sentence starters as necessary. Then, I will read stories that show several different family situations including a single-father, a step-family, and stories about divorce. I will spend two days on each book, first asking the children to think about how their family is different. After listening, they will compare their own families in writing, by finishing the sentence, "My family is different because…" I will expect the children to write about any differences they feel are significant, from the skin color of the characters to the family dynamic presented in the book. Then, on the following day, I will reread the book, asking the children to think about ways they are the same and complete the activity accordingly.

Then, I will share stories about two families in which one parent has to work at night. I will use stories in which the working parents represent different genders, in order to allow the children evaluate whether this alters the feelings of the children in the stories. Students will respond by writing about a time they didn't want to wait to do something special with their moms, dads, or grandparents. They will be asked to volunteer to read their personal connections and explain their feelings. They will then discuss how they would feel if they were the children in the story. After getting the children's reactions, I will guide them in a discussion to compare and contrast the two families in the stories.

Next, I will delve into the topic of grandparent relationships. I will start by reading a poem and then do a shared writing activity in which we create a list of statements that are true about grandparents. We will then discuss our list and discover differences among grandparents. I will then read a book about visiting grandparents. The children will draw and then write a short memoir about visiting their grandparents, from one to three sentences, depending on their individual abilities. We will share these in class and talk about how the children's experiences are similar or different from one another's.

Next, I will explore sibling relationships by reading several books about siblings. We will discuss new baby siblings and sibling rivalry. I will ask the children to write about ways their families are similar or different from the characters we read about and then share stories about how their parents show that they are proud of them and love them. Finally, I will read a book about a Biracial family with two children and ask the children to compare and contrast their own family to the one in the book. We will brainstorm ideas together before the children write, and I will make sure to bring up ideas about the activities the family takes part in during the book as well as the racial dynamic presented. We will discuss whether race and gender influence the way siblings and families interact and feel toward each other.


I will ask the children to draw a picture of the family that we read about that is most like their own and write a sentence explaining why. Then, they will have to draw and write a sentence explaining why one of the families is very different from their own. The books will be displayed in the room so that the children will be able to refer to them if necessary. We will do a final shared writing activity in which we list different types of families. After this activity is completed, I will ask the children which family is best. Hopefully the children's responses will reflect the idea that all families are different and good in their own ways, as long as the family members love each other.

Theme 2: Community and Traditions


Students will recognize that they are part of a school community and a neighborhood community. They will write observations about their own community and compare it to various others. By the second quarter of the year, the students will be expected to write at least one complete sentence, by looking at the question on the board to find the words they need to start their sentences.

To start the unit, I will read aloud two books about neighborhood friends and ask the children to write connections to the stories. After they've shared their writing, I'll ask the students to identify where the stories take place. We will compare the settings of the stories with the school and the children's home neighborhoods. I will ask the class to consider what the buildings, sidewalks, and the children's homes look like. I will ask them to consider the kinds of people that live in the neighborhoods in the books. After this, I will ask the children to draw a picture of their home neighborhood and label the parts. They will then present their drawings to the class, telling how they are similar to or different from the setting of one of the books. On the following day, the children will have to write a short memoir about why they like or dislike their neighborhood. Based on this writing, we will compile a list of positive and negative neighborhood qualities.

After analyzing their own neighborhoods, the children will continue to examine and compare other neighborhoods and communities. I will read several books with different kinds of settings, including rural and urban locations in the US and other countries. Before reading each book, students will look at a world map to identify their own location and that of the story. I will ask the children to consider the types of houses, the stores, and the way the people look and dress. I will ask them how the family and neighborhood relationships are similar to or different from what we're used to and we will elaborate on ways the communities are different from our own, through shared writing. The students will then make connections to the content of the stories, and the feelings and motivations of the characters. Finally, they will draw pictures of one of the places we read about and write a story using that setting. As a shared writing activity, they will list the things they like about the various types of communities we read about.


In order to assess their understanding of different communities and the people in them, I will ask the students to write and draw the community that they feel was most different from their own. I will then ask them to make a connection to someone who lives in the community they drew to see if they understood that people can be different in many ways, and may still have feelings or experiences that are common.


The students will learn about celebrations of various religious and cultural traditions. I will read aloud and discuss stories that describe various traditions of families celebrating Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and Chinese New Year. The children will make connections to preparing for a celebration in some way. After this, we will compare and contrast the holidays. The students will then make comparisons between the holiday celebrations and traditions in their own lives. They will write and illustrate detailed memoirs about their favorite family traditions. I will help them to elaborate and revise the stories and I will create a book of family traditions. The children will practice reading their stories to the class, and we will prepare for an Authors' Tea Party. Several children will share their memoirs with the class each day until all the stories have been read and discussed. In addition to rehearsing, the children will work together to prepare invitations, a refreshment wish-list, and decorations for our party. Then, they will read the stories in front of the class and an eager parent audience. Holiday-related projects will be completed in art class throughout this subsection of the unit. See Resources for ideas.


After listening to the children's stories, we will compare and contrast the traditions. The children will have the opportunity to make observations about them in connection with what they learned in class. I will assess the students' knowledge of the various holiday traditions as well as their ability to understand that celebrating with family is a common interest, even among people who have differing beliefs and traditions. I may also prepare a short matching quiz to assess content knowledge of the holidays studied.

Theme 3: Celebrating African American History

The students will learn about African American heroes of past and present. Comparisons will be made between people with similar accomplishments and a difference of race, gender, or economic status. The many factors that influenced them will be acknowledged and analyzed, including race, religion, family background, hardship, economic status, political factors, and motivation. Students' writing should be 2-4 sentences at this time.

We will begin the section on Black History by preparing a song and a poem for the school-wide Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Brotherhood Assembly. Since the festivities are in honor of Dr. King, I will begin by reading a book about him to the class, and discussing the reason for celebrating the holiday. I will discuss civil rights very briefly for now, and concentrate on the message of treating all people like family, regardless of what they look like. I will utilize shared reading to teach the children a Civil Rights/brotherhood-related poem and a song that they will perfect in music class. I will ask the children to try to explain the meaning of these works. After we brainstorm and discuss them at length, I will ask the children to illustrate and write a connection to each, and we will discuss how the children's stories relate to the messages in the poem and song. The class will practice reciting the poem emphatically on a daily basis until it and the song are ready to perform. In order to assess their learning so far, I will ask a few children each day to explain why we will be performing these particular works.

After preparing for the Brotherhood Assembly, I feel it is important to spend some time teaching the children about slavery before giving a more detailed background on the Civil Rights Era. I will take some time to show Africa on the map of the world and explain how slaves were taken to America. In addition to explaining a little bit about slavery, I will use several picture books to teach the children about the Underground Railroad, the significance of quilts and coded songs, and the courage of the slaves. In art class, they will design their own quilts, and create their own meaning for their designs. When the quilts are completed, each student will present his or her quilt with an explanation of what the designs mean. To make this subject come alive for the students even more, I will teach them several traditional African American songs, using books that you will find listed in the Resource section. We will practice the songs, and when the songs are well prepared, we will invite other classes to a sing-along. I will ask for volunteers to explain to the other children that slaves used songs to keep their spirits up, but also to alert others to their plans to escape without the slave masters becoming aware.

We will move on to a discussion of the Civil War and the abolition, or ending, of slavery. I will explain that life remained very hard for former slaves because they still did not have much money or opportunity, and most White people did not treat them respectfully. I will demonstrate that changes happened slowly after slavery ended through the use of several picture books that show individual Black people making strides toward freedom and fair treatment. Next, we will discuss school segregation and Ruby Bridges. The students will write connections to her experience, using their imagination to write how they would have felt if they had been in her place. I will delve deeper into the Civil Rights Movement by reading biographies about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. The children will discuss and write about each person they learn about. As a follow up, I will invite older relatives of the students to come and speak to the class about their experiences during the Civil Rights Movement.

At this point, we will study Langston Hughes, reading his poems and a biography. We will read many poems about freedom, education, family and personal feelings. After reading African American poetry extensively through independent and shared reading, and read alouds, the children will be ready to write and perform self-inspired poetry.

We will then study the accomplishments of many African American heroes. I will begin by reading about Wilma Rudolf and Jesse Owens and discussing the obstacles they overcame. The children will have to compare the two runners and the many similarities between their life histories. After the children have written individually about these two athletes, we will compile a list of similarities and differences as a class shared writing activity. At this point, I will read about Bessie Coleman and Amelia Earhart. The students will have to compare their lives and achievements, taking into consideration their work history, family history, and family resources. Throughout the remainder of the semester, I will continue teaching about important Black heroes, including inventors, musicians, and athletes.

Additionally, small groups will meet with the Library Media Specialist weekly to conduct research and create a PowerPoint presentation on an African American hero of their choice. The group will be responsible for presenting the information to the class. It will be up to the group members to decide on the best way to show what they have learned, whether by speaking, using illustrations, presenting a skit, or some other method.


After the children have studied and compared themselves to many Black American heroes, they will be asked to write about the people they feel they are most similar to and explain why. For additional content assessment, I may prepare a short matching quiz. As a culminating activity for this section, the students will perform in a classroom talent show to show off the skills that connect them to their favorite Black heroes.

Theme 4: Celebrating diversity and personal history

I will encourage the children to see commonalities between seemingly different people and to appreciate differences, specifically by designing lessons utilizing literature with universal themes, representing a variety of ethnicities. The students will observe the characters' situations and feelings, and continue to make personal connections as well as connections between characters and stories. Some of the themes that will be addressed are physical abilities, visiting relatives, being honest, wanting something one can't have, and pride. The students' writing skills will be developing, and they will be expected to use characters' names and details from both stories when making connections.

I will begin this unit with a shared reading activity with a book about children from different cultures becoming friends. For the following four or five days, I will pair the children for partner work. On the first day, I will give the children five or six interview questions, such as "What kind of house do you live in?", "What do you like to do?", and "Who are your family members?" They will record their partners' responses in complete sentences and then work together to create interesting presentations of their partner's responses. Finally, they will compile a list of similarities and differences between them. The children will use art supplies, create a song, or use a combination of ideas to present their work to the class. They will be graded on their presentation creativity as well as their speaking skills, written responses, and cooperation.

Next, I will read aloud two books about hair, a theme most children easily relate to. Even boys with short hair are likely to have a story about a haircut or a family member. In order to get great connection stories, I will share a personal hair story and then ask the children to volunteer theirs. After the discussion, the students will write a connection between the two stories, telling how they are similar. This will be followed on the next day by written memoirs about their hair.

Next, we will read These Hands and Hands! as shared reading activities. The children will then write, and later revise, sentences about what they are able to do with their hands. After writing, they will trace their hands, cut out the handprints, and color them with multicultural crayons. The prints will be glued to white paper along with revised sentences. We will display these around the room and take notice of the common activities for which the children use their hands. This will be followed by discussion about the many things that people of all colors do with their hands. This will provide a perfect opportunity to emphasize the point that people who have significant differences often have a lot of common ideas and abilities.

The next activity will be a read aloud and discussion of The Gift, because it illustrates that everyone, regardless of race or appearance, has his or her own special talent. After discussing this book, the children will write personal "success stories." The stories should explain what steps they took in order to discover or acquire their skill and end with examples of their talents or successes. After the stories are written, I will edit them and help the students to elaborate by writing sentence starters where details should be added. After conferring with me, the students will revise their stories and illustrate them for publishing. They will practice reading the stories and make invitations for their parents to come listen to their stories at a publishing party.

The students will continue writing connections and/or personal memoirs relating to the stories I've chosen that reflect a variety of identity differences, including gender, race, health, and ability, which have nearly universal themes. In each case, I will ask the children to imagine the same story happening to someone of a different race, gender, etc. and discuss how the experience would be different or similar. Once again, through the teacher's guided discussion, the class will see that people have some of the same kinds of experiences no matter what they look like. I will include extensive discussion of the ideas that it is important not to prejudge someone and that obstacles can be overcome. Students will write fiction or non-fiction stories that tell about accomplishing something that other people said couldn't be done. I will then ask the students to write about how they think they would feel and act if they had to go to school with a disease or disability and how they think classmates would treat them. They will then write a story about how they would make a seemingly different classmate feel at home.

I will end this section of the unit by reading stories that directly praise diversity and asking the children to explain the main idea of each story. We will conclude this section of the unit by making a class collage of self-portraits and photos and using shared writing to create a poem about our own diversity.


I will ask the children to draw three pictures of people who they feel are different from each other in important ways. After the drawings are complete, I will ask the children to present their pictures and explain how the people are different and then to comment on something they might have in common. We will then make a mural with all the pictures.

Culminating Activities

Students will create a final project in the form of a personal scrapbook and written autobiography. Finally, the introductory lesson will be repeated. See Lesson Plan 3.

Addressing Multiple Intelligences

I feel confident that my unit addresses the needs of people who exhibit most of the nine intelligences Howard Gardner has identified. The responses to literature include drawing, verbal and written response, which will allow Verbal-Linguistic learners to excel, along with the Visual-Spatial learners. The majority of the lessons I've planned include comparing and contrasting, which will allow Logical-Mathematical thinkers to thrive. The self-reflection and discussion aspects of most of my lessons will appeal to the Interpersonal and Intrapersonal as well as the Existential learners. The various performance activities, including reading published writing, reciting poetry, singing songs, and participating in a talent show will appeal to Musical and Kinesthetic learners. Finally, I believe the entire Celebrating Diversity theme may especially appeal to Existential learners. (C. Hancock)


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Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan 1: Introduction (2-3 days, 30-45 minutes each)

Objectives: Students will introduce themselves to their classmates, describe themselves, learn about classmates, practice public speaking skills, practice fine motor skills, and demonstrate an initial understanding of identity.

Materials: "multicultural" markers or crayons, pencils, large paper, paper with large printing lines, video camera (or tape recorder if video recorder is not available)


Day 1: 1. Provide art supplies and ask children to make a detailed self-portrait on white paper with a picture frame sketched on it.

2. Ask, "Who are you?" and tell students to answer this question by writing words that tell who they are on the edges of their picture frame.

3. Write the sentence starter, "I am" on the board and provide lined paper. Tell the students to write at least 3 sentences that tell important things about who they are.

4. If there are students struggling with the writing aspect, assist by writing the words as they recite the information.

5. Write the following guiding sentences on sentence strips and put them on the board:

"Hello. My name is __________. I am _____ years old. I like ________. Today I'm feeling ____________. I am _____________, I am ____________, and I am _______."

6. Students will practice introducing themselves in pairs, including showing the portrait, saying their "I am" sentences, their age, something they like, and how they feel.

Day2-3: 1. Students will use the guiding sentences, their portrait and an item from home to introduce themselves to the class.

2. Video-tape introductions to show the students at the end of the year and in order to inspire the best public speaking skills.

Lesson Plan 2: Book Response for The Family Book (4 days, about 30 minutes each)

Objectives: (Introduction to Written Response to text) Students will understand the book; demonstrate and develop comprehension through illustration, writing and verbal skills.

Materials: The Family Book by Todd Parr, pencils, large elementary lined paper, large white construction paper, multicultural crayons and/or markers


Day 1: 1. Read The Family Book. Interrupt during the reading to ask children to think of examples for some of the family types listed. For example, when it says, "Some families are small," ask the children to give an example of a small family.

2. After reading the book, ask the students to draw detailed pictures of their families on large white construction paper.

3. Ask the children to label the family members and write some words or sentences on the bottoms of their pictures that tell what their families are like.

Day 2: 1. On the following day, the students will be asked to copy the following sentence starter, "My family is" from the board onto their lined paper and complete the sentence two different ways. Instruct students to spell the words by saying them slowly and writing the sounds they hear.

2. They will then read their sentences to the class and show their pictures from the previous day.

Day 3: 1. After all the pictures and sentences are complete, edit the sentences and ask the children to write them over neatly with the correct spelling.

2. Then, create a class book with each child's illustration next to his or her sentences.

Day 4: 1. When the class book is complete, show it to the class and read it together as a shared reading activity.

2. Work on a shared writing activity in which the students list ways that their families are different from one another and ways they are alike. Display in the room.

Lesson Plan 3: Culminating Activities (approximately two weeks)

Objectives: Assess the children's learning in terms of personal identity; develop public speaking skills, creativity and oral and written skills; increase self- expression.

Materials: Let's Talk About Race, by Julius Lester, video camera, construction paper, composition notebooks, yarn, pencils, multicultural paint, markers and crayons, scissors, glue, magazines, various other art supplies


Week 1: 1. The children will conduct a shared, interactive writing assignment in which they brainstorm questions that should be answered in their autobiographies. The book, Let's Talk About Race will be revisited frequently as an aid to writing this piece. (It explicitly explains that race can be a significant part of who someone is, but that it is only part of the picture, along with other things like personal tastes, gender, etc.)

2. The students will spend 1-3 days writing a rough draft autobiography that will describe personal history and identity from the perspective of at least 4 factors such as age, race, family life, religion (how the child participates or feels about it), gender, health, physical abilities and talents, and ambitions.

3. Confer with children individually or in small groups to edit and help them to elaborate. Students will then revise their writing for publishing.

Week 2: 1. The children will spend 2-3 class sessions creating a scrapbook to accompany the autobiography that will include the child's choice of collage, magazine photographs, photographs from home, drawings, notes, and artwork that they feel will help them to present their autobiographies in a visual manner.

2. The children will make invitations for their parents to attend and to listen to their work.

3. The children will have several opportunities to practice reading their writing and presenting their scrapbook before the final performance.

4. On performance day, there will be a celebration with refreshments, and students will be expected to reintroduce themselves on video-tape as they did in the first week of school. (See Lesson Plan 1.) Then, the students will read their autobiographies with animated voices, incorporate visuals from their scrapbook into their presentation, and demonstrate stage presence including "proud" posture and projected voice.

Extension: Finally, students will view and compare video-tapes from the beginning of the year and the end, to see their growth in public speaking skills, self-perception, and personalities.

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Teacher Resources/Works Cited

Bigelow, Bill and Linda Christensen, Stan Karp, Barbara Miner, and Bob Peterson, ed. Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, 1994. Guide to help teachers be sensitive to issues of diversity.

Byrd, Ayana D. and Lori Tharps. Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2004. Explains Black hair and image issues.

Hancock, Ange Marie. "Yale New Haven Teachers Institute 2005 Seminar: Intersecting Identities." Allwyn Hall, New Haven. 17 May 2005.

Hancock, Charles. "Multiple Intelligences and Identity: New Haven-Yale Teacher Seminar." Allwyn Hall, New Haven. 14 June 2005.

Israel, Elaine. Celebrate the Winter Holidays! New York: Scholastic, 2001. Art projects for celebrating winter holidays.

Jones, Lisa. Bulletproof Diva. New York: Doubleday,1994. Newspaper columns and memoirs of a Biracial woman that speak of race, sex, and hair.

Kimble-Ellis. Sonya. Traditional African American Arts & Activities. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2002. A book of project ideas for teachers.

Sanders, Nancy. A Kids' Guide to African American History. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2000. Seventy short history lessons with correlated projects.

Santrock, John W. Children. Dubuque, Iowa: Brown & Benchmark Publishers,1998. Text by well-recognized researcher of family and children's socio-emotional development.

Tatum, Beverly. "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?"And Other Conversations About Race. New York: Basic Books, 1997. Great resource by a renowned expert on classroom race relations and racial identity development.

Annotated Children's Literature

*Codes after annotations indicate the characters' race/ethnicity: (A)=Asian, (B)=Black, (L)=Latino , (M)=Multiracial and/or more than one, (W)=White (N/A)= n/a (animals)

Theme 1: Family and Me

Ackerman, Karen. Dawn's Early Light. New York: Aladdin Books, 1994. Grandmother cares for children while (single) mom works at night. (B)

Adoff, Arnold. Black is Brown is Tan. Singapore: Harper Collins Publishers, 2001. Song/poem celebrating one family's skin colors and everyday activities. (M)

Ancona, George. Mayeros: A Yucatec Maya Family. New York: Morrow, 1997. A family's daily activities in rural Mexico. (L)

Binch, Caroline. Since Dad Left. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1998. Boy has to get used to Dad's new, very different lifestyle, from resentment to understanding. (W)

Flournoy, Valerie. The Patchwork Quilt. New York: Scholastic, 1985. Tanya helps her grandmother create a quilt full of family memories. (B)

Garza, Carmen Lomas. Family Pictures. San Francisco: Children's Book Press, 1990. (L)

Greenfield, Eloise. Grandpa's Face. New York: Scholastic, 1998. A little girl learns that her grandfather will always love her, even if he gets mad. (B)

Grimes, Nikki. Hopscotch Love: A Family Treasury of Love Poems. New York: Scholastic, 1999. Poems about love between family, friends, and neighbors. (B)

Henkes, Kevin. Julius, the Baby of the World. New York: Scholastic, 1990. Lilly is jealous and mean to her new baby brother until someone else insults him. (N/A)

Hoffman, Mary. Boundless Grace. New York: Scholastic, 1995. Grace visits her father's new family in Africa and learns there is no right way to be a family.(B)

Joosse, Barbara M. I Love You the Purplest. New York: Scholastic, 1996. A mom loves both of her sons best. (W)

Joosse, Barbara M. Mama, Do You Love Me? New York: Scholastic, 1991. Inuit girl keeps asking if her mother will still love her if she did naughty/destructive things.

Juster, Norton. The Hello, Goodbye Window. New York: Hyperion Books, 2005. A little girl tells the things she likes about visiting her grandparents. (M)

Kroll, Virginia. Butterfly Boy. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press, 1997. A boy and his silent, elderly grandfather share a love of butterflies. (L)

London, Jonathan. Froggy's Baby Sister. New York: Scholastic, 2003. (N/A)

McCourt, Lisa. I Love You Stinky Face. Bridgewater Books, 1997. At bedtime, a boy keeps asking his mom if she'd still love him even if he was a skunk, an alien, etc. (W)

Mendez, Phil. The Black Snowman. New York: Scholastic, 1989. Brothers learn the importance of family love and courage as the older boy, initially angry/ ashamed of being Black, learns to believe in himself and take pride in his ancestors' courage. (B)

Micklos, John. Grandparent Poems. Homesdale PA: Boyds Mills Press, 2004. (M)

Nicholas, Evangeline. Benji's Pup. Bothell, WA: Wright Group/McGraw-Hill. Tells how a little boy with a wheelchair and a big family gets and cares for his own pet.

Nolen, Jerdine. In My Momma's Kitchen. New York: Scholastic, 1999. Scenes from life in a loving, extended African American family; great book for connections. (B)

Parr, Todd. The Family Book New York, Little, Brown, and Co., 2003. Patterned text shows many different kinds of families and things all families have in common. (M)

Smith, Will. Just the Two of Us. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Single dad's love. (B)

Spinelli, Eileen. Night Shift Daddy. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2000. A little girl spends time with her dad who works the night shift.

Steptoe, Javaka. In My Daddy's Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers. NewYork: Lee & Low Books, Inc., 1997. Poems about fathers. (B)

Theme 2: Community and Traditions

Chocolate, Deborah Newton. My First Kwanzaa. New York: Scholastic, 1992. (B)

Dooley, Norah. Everybody Cooks Rice. New York: Scholastic, 1991. In one very multicultural neighborhood, many dinners include cook rice. (M)

Drucker, Malta. Grandma's Latkes. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1992. (W)

Ghazi, Suhaib Hamid. Ramadan. New York: Holiday House, 1996. Teaches about the holy month of Ramadan and Islam faith.

Hoyt-Goldsmith, Diane. Celebrating Chinese New Year. New York: Holiday House, 1998. A family prepares for the celebration. (A)

Hoyt-Goldsmith, Diane. Las Posadas: an Hispanic Christmas Celebration. New York: Holiday House, 1999. Explains family preparations for this winter holiday. (L)

Jones, Rebecca C. Matthew and Tilly. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 1991. Best friends have an argument, feel lonely, and make up; features city neighbors. (M)

Madrigal, Antonio Hernandez. Erandi's Braids. New York: Scholastic, 1999. Girl in1950s Mexico sells her prized hair to get a doll and help the family with finances. (L)

Nomura, Takaaki. Grandpa's Town. Brooklyn, NY: Kane/ Miller Books, 1991. Japanese man proudly shows off his town & neighbors. Valuable for content and theme, but must be previewed: 1-2 pages have nudity that could easily be skipped or covered. (A)

Polacco, Patricia. The Trees of the Dancing Goats. New York, NY: Scholastic, 1996. A Jewish family helps ill neighbors celebrate Christmas. (W)

Pomerantz, Charlotte. You're Not My Best Friend Anymore. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 1998. Suburban neighbors/ best friends fight and make up. (M)

Shannon, George. Climbing Kansas Mountains. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1993. Father and son make a special trip to the top of a grain elevator. (W)

Theme 3: Celebrating African American History

Adler, David A. A Picture Book of Amelia Earhart. New York: Scholastic, 1998.

Adler, David A. A Picture Book of Jesse Owens. New York: Scholastic, 1992.

Adler, David A. A Picture Book of Rosa Parks. New York: Scholastic, 1993.

Adoff, Arnold. My Black Me: a Beginning Book of Black Poetry. New York: Puffin Books, 1994.

Borden, Louise. Fly High: The Story of Bessie Coleman. New York: Scholastic, 2001.

Bradby, Marie. More Than Anything Else. New York: Scholastic, 1995. The story of Booker T Washington as a boy, with a guiding wish to read and later teach others.

Coles, Robert. The Story of Ruby Bridges. New York: Scholastic, 1995.

Cooper, Floyd. Coming Home: From the Life of Langston Hughes. New York: Putnam & Grosset Group, 1994. A long biography; best if the telling is modified or split up.

Greenfield, Eloise. Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems. New York: Harper Collins, 1978.

Greenfield, Eloise. Night on Neighborhood Street. New York: Puffin Pied Piper, 1991. Poems with neighborhood and family themes.

Hudson, Wade and Cheryl, ed. How Sweet the Sound: African-American Songs for Children. New York: Scholastic, 1995. Illustrated lyrics, and sheet music at the back.

Hudson, Wade, ed. Pass It On: African-American Poetry for Children. New York: Scholastic, 1993.

Johnson, James Weldon. Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing. New York, NY: Scholastic, 1995.

Jordan, Deloris. Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream. New York: Aladdin Books, 2000. A biography from the perspective of a childhood story.

Krull, Kathleen. Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolf Became the World's Fastest Woman. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1996.

Medina, Tony. Love to Langston. New York: Lee & Low Books, 2002. Poetry collection.

Miller, William. Richard Wright and the Library Card. New York: Scholastic, 1997.

Mitchell, Margaree King. Grandaddy's Gift. New York: Scholastic, 1997. A man in the segregated South asserts his right to register to vote, setting a powerful example.

Morrison, Toni. Remember: The Journey to School Integration. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. Photographs and the imagined thoughts of those in the photos.

Munoz Ryan, Pam. When Marian Sang. New York: Scholastic, 2002. A biography of opera singer Marian Anderson.

Myers, Walter Dean. Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly. New York: Amistad, 1995.

Pinkney, Andrea Davis. Duke Ellington. New York: Scholastic, 1998.

Polacco, Patricia. Pink and Say. New York: Philomel Books, 1994. A Black Civil War soldier befriends and cares for a White Union soldier in this long, emotional book.

Ringgold, Faith. Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky. New York: Scholastic, 1992. A fanciful yet accurately informative introduction to slavery for children.

Ringgold, Faith. Dinner at Aunt Connie's House. New York: Scholastic, 1993. This fanciful tale introduces the stories of 12 important African-American women.

Stroud, Bettye. The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2005. A story of how quilt patterns helped one slave family.

Woodworth, Deborah. Determination: The Story of Jackie Robinson. Chanhassen, MN: Child's World Inc., 1998. An excellent picture book biography with chapters.

Section 4: Celebrating Diversity and Personal History

Backstein, Karen. Blind Men & the Elephant. New York: Scholastic, 1992. This tale shows that more than one viewpoint can be valid and combine to make a whole truth.

Crew, Gary. Bright Star. Brooklyn, NY: Kane/Miller Books, 1996. Around 1900, an Australian farm-girl only dreams of studying stars until she meets an astronomer. (W)

Fox, Mem. Feathers and Fools. San Diego: Voyager Books, Harcourt Inc., 1989. Peacocks and swans fight over differences. The hatchlings have a different idea. (N/A)

Geller, Rita. Victoria's Smile. New York: Scholastic, 1995. A first grade class learns to accept a new classmate, whose brain tumor has left her with a crooked smile. (W)

Goingback, Owl. The Gift. Bothell, WA: The Wright Group, 1997. A discouraged Kiowa (Native American) boy finally discovers his own special talent.

Grimes, Nikki. Wild, Wild Hair. New York: Scholastic, 1997. A little girl tries to hide from having her long, thick hair braided. (B)

Havill, Juanita. Jamaica's Find. New York: Scholastic, 1986. A little girl wants to keep a toy that she finds, but learns that it is more rewarding to do the right thing. (B)

Henkes, Kevin. Chester's Way. New York: Scholastic, 1988. Two boys did everything together and the same…until Lilly came along. (N/A)

hooks, bell. Skin Again. New York, Hyperion Books for Children, 2004. What counts most is on the inside of someone's skin! (M)

Keats, Ezra Jack. The Snowy Day. New York: Scholastic, 1962. A little boy has a snow-filled adventure, with great details. (B)

King, Virginia. The Best Birthday Present. Crystal Lake, IL: Rigby, 1990. A boy decides the best present for his differently-abled brother is a horse. (W)

Kroll, Virginia. Hands! Honesdale, PA: Boyd's Mills Press, Inc., 1997. This book shows many things hands can do for people of all colors. (M)

Lionni, Leo. Swimmy. New York: Scholastic, 1963. One differently colored fish teaches the others to work as a team to get everyone to safety. (N/A)

McKissack, Patricia. The Honest-to-Goodness Truth. New York: Aladdin Books, 2000. A little girl learns to tell the truth without hurting people's feelings. (B)

Lester, Julius. Let's Talk About Race. New York: Harper Collins, Inc., 2005. The author/ narrator invites the reader to talk about race and many parts of a person's story. (M)

Monk, Isabell. Hope. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, 1999. A little girl learns that her name represents the courage and pride behind her biracial heritage. (M)

Nicholas, Evangeline. Lilacs, Lotuses, and Ladybugs. Bothell, WA: The Wright Group. A girl from Iowa befriends a girl from Cairo, Egypt, despite a language barrier. (M)

Pinkney, Sandra. Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children. New York: Scholastic, 2000. This book is full of beautiful photographs of black children of all shades.

Price, Hope Lynn. These Hands. New York: Scholastic, 1999. A girl shows the many things her hands can do. (B)

Raschka, Chris. Yo! Yes? New York: Scholastic, 1993. Two boys become friends with few words spoken between them. (M)

Soto, Gary. Too Many Tamales. New York: Peguin Publishers, 1993. A little girl thinks she has lost her mother's ring and causes a huge mess trying not to get caught. (L)

Steptoe, John. Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1987. This Cinderella story celebrates inner and outer beauty. (B)

Surat, Michelle Maria. Angel Child, Dragon Child. New York: Scholastic, 1983. A Vietnamese girl has a hard time in America until she gets some unexpected help. (A)

Tarpley, Natasha Anastasia. I Love My Hair! Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1998. A girl describes the many thrilling ways she can wear her long black hair. (B)

Additional Materials

-Pencils, crayons, markers, paint, yarn, scissors, magazines

-Chart paper, writing paper, and construction paper

-Camera, use of video camera and/or tape recorder

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