Thursday, February 5, 2009
The Skin I'm In: A First Look at Racism by Pat Thomas
Summary: The book starts out by having children imagine a world where they were judged by their eye color and how unfair that would be. It then goes into discussing race (and asks the students to think about what race they are) and how everyone is different, yet some people are mean to other people simply because of their race. They define the term racist/racism and talk about how bad it can be by providing examples of both blatant and subtle racism. The pictures and examples are great and definitely provide for discussion and deep thinking. The book then goes on to tell you what to do if you see racist behavior and how to react if you are the one being made fun of. It asks students to think about if they have ever been the victim of racist behavior. At the end it reiterates once again why it doesn't pay to be racist since we are all the same on the inside. After the story ends there is a page on How to Use the Book followed by a glossary, further reading suggestions, and a contacts list for teachers to get more information (some of which are out of date, though). I have used this book in a 1st grade classroom and it went really well, except you need to make clear the distinction between regular bullying and racist behavior.
P.S. This book is "A First Look At..." book and there are a whole bunch of awesome sounding titles on the back cover (I want them all!) such as A First Look At..disability, death, family break-up, adoption, etc. Thought I would pass that information on to you ladies!
How to use this book in the classroom: This book would be perfect if there was an issue of racist behavior happening in the classroom/school or if you heard about a child being the victim of racism. The book could help them work through it and make them feel better about themselves. I have read this book (in at 1st grade class) and then had the students draw a picture of racist behavior and write about it and what they would do if they saw it taking place. It was a great way to probe the students thinking about racism and make sure they understood the book's message. You could have students also just write a general response to it and find out if student's can recap the story (which would obviously show understanding) and also find out their personal thoughts and see if racist behavior has ever been geared towards them. Students could also roleplay scenarios from the book and do thought tracking to see how people would feel if each role. There are so many great lessons that could come from this book.
Stages of Social Justice:
1) Self Love and Acceptance: There is a part of the book where a little girl is bullied because of the color of her skin. She then learns how to find help from a trusted adult and therefore learns to love herself for who she is.
2)Respect for Others: This is the whole message of the book- that we must not judge or hurt others because of the color of their skin or anything else about them.
3)Exploring Issues of Social Justice: This book makes students think critically about racism and how it occurs in today's society. It also teaches them how to stand up to racism and why it is not okay to be racist.