Thursday, March 13, 2008
It's Okay to Be Different
Summary: It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr is a fun-loving story about the many differences that exist between all people and a unique way in which we can embrace and celebrate those differences. Even though this text may appear to be silly and simple, it’s bright, bold colors and powerful words carry a strong message. The appearance of this text draws students in and the messages of understanding, acceptance, and confidence in oneself keeps them entranced from beginning to end. Combating issues of racism, ableism, perceptions of beauty, immigration, homophobia, adoption, and more this is an important text for all children to be exposed to.
Reflections: It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr is a wonderful story filled with eye-catching illustrations and meaningful narration. I really enjoyed reading this book and each time I read it to children I saw just how much they enjoyed it too! Although this book looks very simple at first glance, it displays issues in today’s world that are relevant to students and need to be discussed. As I read the book for the first time I felt that the way in which Todd Parr discussed heavy issues such as racism, ableism, perceptions of beauty, immigration, homophobia, adoption, etc. was brilliant and appropriate for young readers. Written in a simple and repetitive manner, this book states many ways in which all people are different and repeatedly asserts that these differences are “okay.” Even though there is no mention of the terms racism, ableism, perceptions of beauty, immigration, homophobia, adoption, etc. the issues are there and it is up to the person reading the book how much depth and detail they will discuss based on issues that the book presents. Finally, I think it is great that this book discusses more than one issue because the fact is that there are many issues of social justice and children need to learn about all of them not just racism.
How I would use this book/curricular units: This text would be great to use when introducing students to the terms of racism, ableism, perceptions of beauty, immigration, homophobia, adoption, etc. In addition to introducing these terms, this book could be used to discuss what each terms definition is, what they mean to the students, and how Todd Parr portrays their meaning in his book. In concordance with this, students can discuss whether or not racism, ableism, perceptions of beauty, immigration, homophobia, adoption, etc. exist in their lives and the role that they play in their lives. The teacher can ask students to not only share the factual information regarding their experiences but how those experiences made them feel and what they would have done to change the situation if they could. The teacher can also have the students create a role-play that they will perform in front of the class in which they act out a scenario demonstrating the meaning of one of these terms and the effects that these terms have on others. Then, the students can talk about what should have been done differently and recreate the scene showing how people can combat racism, ableism, perceptions of beauty, immigration, homophobia, adoption, etc. through their words and actions.
Elements of Social Justice Education: 1) Self-love and Acceptance: Students will learn to love themselves for who they are and where they come from. They will see themselves in the text by being able to relate to one of the many descriptions given and recognize that just as Todd Parr writes about these differences he also writes about the fact that it is okay that these differences exist thus fostering a sense of acceptance for others as well as ourselves and where we come from. 2) Respect for Others: Students will learn to investigate other people and cultures and appreciate them for what they are by looking at not hiding from what makes people and cultures different, talking about those differences, and accepting and respecting others for who they are and where they come from. 3) Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students will discuss and learn more about racism, ableism, perceptions of beauty, immigration, homophobia, adoption, etc. and the effects that these issues have on all people. 4) Social Movements and Social Change: Students can explore the issues presented in the text and discuss how people have worked to change society using Todd Parr as an example for writing this book. In addition, they can connect social movements and social change from the outside world to their classroom and discover ways in which they could combat issues similar to those in the text. 5) Taking Social Change: Students will learn how to take action and create social change on their own by looking first at their own classroom and the existence of issues like bullying and its underlying themes to take action against issues such as ableism, racism, classism, perceptions of beauty, etc.
Posted by bree at 5:01 PM