Perspective Through Picture Books: How Can You Implement This In Your Classroom?

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This post *should* answer all of your questions about Perspective Through Picture Books!

*Please read this post first for an introduction to PTPB if you aren’t familiar!

What’s included in a PTPB Download?

If you have purchased our units, you may have noticed a change in what is included. In an effort to go digital/green, we are reducing the need for printables. This means that the printable workbook that was included in our earlier books will no longer be included.

When we first began writing these units, we were convinced that they wouldn’t be attractive to teachers because they weren’t “cute.” We almost tried to add in some response activities or book-themed crafts to cute-it-up. But then…we remembered who we are and what we believe! We decided to put them out there with the hope that educators would see the power of good books, good questions, and good conversations.

We just couldn’t reconcile the time (or paper) it would take to create a construction paper craft in order to write a sentence as a response. We are after the thinking. We want students to dig into a text and grapple with decisions that are made. We want students to consider the implications of choices. We want students to consider a new perspective. We encourage you to allow your students to collect what we like to call a “Portfolio of perspectives” as they read these books. We envision students leaving at the end of the year with a folder or notebook full of their reflections on windows and mirrors (available for free here) and sharing it with their families. We picture students flipping through and remembering their thoughts about their new perspectives- bravery, integrity, cultural identities, thoughts on homelessness, kindness vs. niceness, etc… When we weigh that against the crafts…for us, there’s no competition.

Now, if you already own the books that we’ve released, you have the printable workbook- and that’s fine! But they will be removed from the books going forward. We have reduced the price to compensate that change. We WILL be leaving the anchor chart cut-outs for teachers that want to use those, but we do encourage teachers to go digital where they can.

Will you be bundling these?

No. We’ll explain.

We firmly believe in culturally responsive teaching. Culture. Is. Everything. When you truly get to know your students on a cultural level, you should be adjusting your teaching practices to reflect your learners. That means that your instruction and materials should look different from year to year! We know that representation matters. When you meet your students, you should be looking for ways to provide representation OR finding ways to disrupt default (white) culture. It is critical for all children to see themselves reflected. White children will see themselves reflected by default as most children’s picture books (or T.V. shows, movies, video games, etc…) feature white children. Picture books are powerful, and white children need to see children of the global majority represented in positive ways. We intentionally choose books where these characters are the heroes, prince/princess, etc… because it’s important to see these characters just living their best life! So many educators wait until February to pull out their “diverse books” and it is only then that children see Black characters in books. This is harmful! If the only time students are seeing Black faces in books is during February (when the books are about slavery, marching, civil rights, etc…) then that sends a clear message to students. Those books SHOULD be taught, but not only during February (Black History Month) and they shouldn’t always show Black characters in a struggle.

All of that to say: You and your team should be hand-picking titles to meet the needs of YOUR learners based on these ideas and more! We can’t do that for you. A boxed set or curriculum guide goes against what we believe is important for teachers that are trying to be intentional about the texts that should be read and conversations that need to be had! We will definitely be able to meet some of your needs, but with each class being unique, there is no way we could meet the needs of all classrooms.

Instead, we encourage you to either a) pick your own books write your own lessons based on the students in your class or b) go through the titles that we’ve selected and sit down and map them out as a team! We will get into this in the next question.

Where should we start? Is there an order you recommend for these books?

Here’s the deal- these aren’t “beginning of the year” book selections. At the core of PTPB is thinking. It’s comprehension and conversation. It’s vocabulary development. It’s not basic.

That means that your students need to acquire the basics BEFORE beginning these units. Here’s a soft set of questions that we ask ourselves before beginning:

  • -Are my students able to sit on the carpet and listen?
  • -Are procedures for turning and talking tight?
  • -Can my students successfully handle getting and using white boards/markers?
  • -Can my students IDENTIFY characters?
  • -Can my students IDENTIFY the setting?
  • -Are my students familiar with the academic vocabulary for literature (setting, plot, retell, compare, contrast, etc…)
  • -Are my students able to work in partners/groups?

When the answer is YES to these questions… you are ready to engage in PTPB!!!

Guys. Little kids can do this. Get those kiddos in shape during the first month of school. Get them familiar with talking with partners and assign partners intentionally so that they are able to engage in the questions and tasks in PTPB.

Which books are for Kindergarten and which books are for first grade?

Here is the mantra for PTPB: Any kid (k-1), any book.

Here’s why.

We’ve built these units on first grade standards because they are BASICALLY THE SAME!

For most standards the only difference is the phrase “with prompting and support.” The point of PTPB is to lift the level of complexity of reading comprehension. It is supposed to be complex. But- these lessons are delivered whole group. You, the teacher, are providing the “prompting and support.” You will ask students to think and process with each other and then bring it back to the group (this is why teaching charts are critical- they keep track of their thinking!). You might see the questions and think “there’s no way kids can handle these questions…” Okay, first of all, yes they can…. a second of all, yes, they can. Here’s the deal: you’ll do a book with your class. It might be shaky. But then you’ll do a second book and then your students will start to pick up on the cadence of the week. Then comes another book, and another until one day your kindergarten and first grade students are debating the ethical decisions of the characters in a 2nd-3rd level text. They can do it. They can get there. Stick with them and truly serve as their “prompting and support.” Just think about the kind of thinkers your students will be after engaging in a year of these types of texts and thinking! This is the point of read aloud time. We don’t want to put texts in front of them they could comprehend without us. We want to give them the opportunity to engage in high level thinking with our guidance and support. Scaffold as needed and watch how high your kids can soar!

What if I want to do my own book? Can I get a blank template?

Yes!! We now offer a blank template available to plan your own with a full set of directions and a video training. You select a text, pull out your perspective, and literally fill in the blanks! Click any image below!

What about nonfiction?

It is true that our PTPB books focus on literature. We do have plans to begin a line of nonfiction magazines that will hit all of the informational text standards in a similar way. We believe that students just need to learn about the world at large because this is another way to build background. As a matter of fact, that’s what the magazines are called!

We used to have thoughts about all of the units that we would see around a seemingly arbitrary topic. Like foxes. Years ago, couldn’t quite understand the value of spending so much time learning about a fox. What was the point in drilling kids about where they live, eat, etc? Outside of it being “cool to know,” we couldn’t truly see the point. Our thinking has shifted. Now we approach nonfiction with an accessibility lens. If we allow our students to gain extensive knowledge about a fox, when the fox appears in another story or article, they are that much more likely to have higher comprehension. We are equipping them with background knowledge that they don’t need…until they do. When we think of it like that, we are all about it! This way of thinking lit a new fire for random nonfiction topics. Now, we want to build our students up to know facts about outer space, oceans, nature, animals, and on and on and on!

Will you be adding more books to this collection?

Yes! This will be an ever-growing body of work. Basically- if we see a good book, we will make a PTPB to accompany it. Here are some of the titles we are considering or releasing as they are completed.

Click here to purchase these units!

 

Love,

LaNesha and Naomi

Creating Your Own Culture Lesson (Tailor-made For Each Student)

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There are so many powerful history lessons that we can share with our students, but what if we intentionally shared lessons that were directly related to our students’ cultures?

LaNesha and I asked ourselves this question recently, and then we created this resource to meet that need.

(Click image to be taken to resource)

Here’s how it works:

In our classes, at the beginning of each year, we get to know our students culturally with our culture cases or culture flipbooks.

We ask our students about their cultures. This typically takes a week or two to complete. Sometimes students have to ask their caregivers for information they are unsure about. These are done in lieu of traditional “About Me” activities.

When everyone has completed this flipbook or culture case, we present them to the class. We celebrate diversity and learn to value the unique experiences our classmates bring the classroom. We (LaNesha and I) share our culture, too.

We also teach our kids about cultural intelligence. Basically, we want to give our kids an understanding of their own cultures so they can see and understand why they should seek to understand and value the cultures of other people.

(Click on the image to check out the resources)

We asked ourselves, what if we take those activities/lessons we planned a step further and actually use the cultural information we learned to create social studies lessons?

We decided to create these templates for planning and teaching short lessons around one aspect of each students’ culture. If you had 24 students, before the end of the year, you would create and present 24 different lessons about each child. It would take about 20 minutes or less to plan and would make a 15-30 minute lesson, depending on how much discussion you encourage or if you add a writing component about what students learned.

This was designed for a teacher to use pictures, gathered from the internet, and information from a quick Google search, to create a short presentation about a topic. First, a teacher would explain why it’s important to know about and then give a few sentences about the history of it. To personalize the lesson, I would also add in a picture of the child who shared that it was a part of their culture. You’ll also explain the global connection and how the lesson is building your students’ cultural intelligence. Last, but not least, summarize the lesson and kids will discuss if they thought the lesson was important.

The headings on each page and the turn and talk prompts are already done for you!

You would insert your own text and picture on each slide as seen below.

In addition to the prompts on the slide, a 12 page guide detailing exactly how to build a lesson is included in the resource. Examples of what to type on each slide are also included in the download.

We hope you and your students enjoy this one!

Naomi and LaNesha

The Black Families’ Guide to Racism

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*Click ANY image in this post to download the guide.

LaNesha and I are two Black moms speaking from the heart with this guide. We know that with all of the hate and racism in the world, it can be hard to know what to say as a parent.

We don’t have all the right words to say. This guide may not be the perfect fit for your family, but we hope Black families will be able to use this free guide in some capacity to help facilitate important conversations with their children.

We created a section about racism. This will help our young kids have the language to describe things they will see and experience. This section will give you the opportunity to discuss racism you have experienced, racism they have experienced, and make a family plan of what to do every time it happens.

Because reliving such harmful and traumatic experiences can be hurtful, we included affirmations after every discussion page. It’s crucial to remind our children that no matter what the world says, they are not those things and that Black lives matter.

We included a section that may reveal some biases your kids hold- because remember, we all hold biases. We encourage you to explore these biases and where they may stem from. The guide will help you facilitate this discussion.

We included a section about allyship and white privilege. Whether they have a name for it or not, our children notice the unfair practices that take place in the world around them. They might notice how some white students are given advantages and less severe consequences in the classroom. This may make them believe the lie that it’s because white students are better or more deserving of these advantages. Helping them to understand what white privilege is will help them identify it and at the very least, be able to discuss it with you.

We also included some pages about being an ally. A true friend should always also be an ally, but an ally does not have to be a friend. We, the Black community, don’t need to seek out white people to care about us enough to stand up against racism and white supremacy. They should care because it’s the right thing to do. We don’t want our kids to ever excuse apathy from a white person about racial injustice simply because they have no close Black friends.

By the time you make it this section (remember to pace yourself), we just wanted to affirm our kids in their Blackness one last time. We wanted to remind them how much they matter, how much they are loved, and how much they should love themselves.

We hope this guide is helpful.

Black Lives Matter.

Naomi and LaNesha

Because we realize the value of important topics like this, LaNesha and I love to make sure our own students and children are exposed to a variety of much needed social studies lesson. We teach kindergarten and first grade, but our students continue to amaze us with the big ideas they are able to handle!

What are your children learning in school for social studies? How diverse are the books being presented to them at school? It’s important for parents to continue to take an active role in what their students are learning!

You can push for culture nights at your school. Ask what anti-racist work your child’s school engages in. You may also want to ask how important inclusion and diversity is for every classroom in your child’s building.

Together, we can make a difference.

Click here to check out the social studies resources we have created. Consider purchasing a unit for a teacher to use. They are K-2 friendly!

K-2 Social Studies

The POC Families’ Guide to Racism (That Affects the Black Community)

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*click ANY image in this post to be taken to the product.

If you are a POC Family in need of assistance in obtaining this resource, please click here.

LaNesha and I created this guide after many requests for this version. We created The White Families’ Guide for Racism: How Can We Grow to Be Anti-Racist and heard from non-Black families of color that realized the need for a guide like this for their families. Black, Indigenous, and other people of color also face discrimination and racism. We recognize that. This book is focused around equipping your children to understand that as well as the racism that affects the Black community.

If you are a white mom, but have children of color, this is not for your family. You should not ever process your racism towards people of color in front of children of color.

We have built-in opportunities for your family to share experiences with racism and discrimination that are unique to your community. This will help them compare and contrast the experiences that are unique to the Black community.

Remember to encourage your children to be honest. They are young. They can unlearn anything harmful they have learned. Be honest about your growth, too. Talk to them about feelings you have about the Black community and how they may have grown or changed over time. Talk to them about negative stereotypes you’ve heard that you know are not true.

Your child might be tempted to keep interjecting about the discrimination or racism they have faced. Validate their feelings. Hear them. You do not have to dismiss their feelings to teach them that Black lives matter, too.

Make sure you set a clear purpose for the discussions and lessons you will be having over the next couple of days or weeks.

We included icons to serve as visual cues that will guide your conversations.

We need you to know that you and your kids can do racist things, even if you don’t identify yourself as a racist person and even if you are a family of color (Indigenous, Asian, Latinx). In the same way that a nice person can sometimes do or say mean things that are out of character, so can you or your children when it comes to doing or saying racist things towards the Black community. Now that you’ve committed to being more aware, you may notice things more clearly and be able to call it out every time you see it. And you’ll be able to change your behavior and apologize when you need to. This will also help your children recognize when they are on the receiving of racism or discrimination and empower them to speak up.

When defining racism for your kids. Please be sure to talk to them about microaggressions. Some kids (and adults) only think of racism as the really big and violent acts Black people face. It isn’t always easy to spot if you don’t know what all forms of it look like.

The conversations can get as deep and as real as you allow. Try to provide many examples from real events, especially if they are personal events, when you can.

When learning about the biases your kids hold, remember to thank them for their honesty. You can help them become aware of their biases so they can work on not acting on them.

Make sure to also tell your kids WHY you all are focusing on being an ally to the Black community. Remind them that, everyone matters, but right now, you are focusing on the Black community and the racism they experience.

Your children will learn about white privilege and you can equip them to teach others about it. Your family can commit to being an ally to the Black community and help to be a part of the solution. Imagine the impact of families all over the country holding each other accountable and engaging in this work with their children.

We are sure you already do, but remember to continue to affirm your children. Remind them that the discrimination or hate they may endure is also wrong.

If you are a POC Family in need of assistance in obtaining this resource, please click here.

Here are some articles and book links that will help you with this resource:

We hope you can shift away from thinking these conversations are too hard to have, to realizing these conversations are too important NOT to have.

Best,

Naomi and LaNesha

Because we realize the value of important topics like this, LaNesha and I love to make sure our own students and children are exposed to a variety of much needed social studies lesson. We teach kindergarten and first grade, but our students continue to amaze us with the big ideas they are able to handle!

What are your children learning in school for social studies? How diverse are the books being presented to them at school? It’s important for parents to continue to take an active role in what their students are learning!

You can push for culture nights at your school. Ask what anti-racist work your child’s school engages in. You may also want to ask how important inclusion and diversity is for every classroom in your child’s building.

Together, we can make a difference.

Click here to check out the social studies resources we have created. Consider purchasing a unit for a teacher to use. They are K-2 friendly!

K-2 Social Studies

The White Families’ Guide For Talking About Racism

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*click ANY image in this post to be taken to the product.

White families, if you’re here, we hope it’s because you’re ready to start having important conversations with your children about racism and actively planning what your family can do to help.

The guide is intended for caregivers to use with their white children. If you have children who are not white, but who are also a part of your family, this guide is not for them. Black, indigenous, and other children of color DO NOT need to be present while you process through how you may have been complicit in racism. This will cause them further harm and trauma.

Look through the entire guide and take notes. Familiarize yourself with the content, so that you can feel prepared to facilitate a conversation. Read up on the definitions and think of simpler terms or analogies you may need to use to help your kids understand. You should also be ready to share times that you personally have seen or taken part in racism. Explain to your kids what happened. You may need to explain what you would change about what you did or the lesson you learned.

Remember this: Your kids are exposed to racism all of the time, whether or not you’ve ever labeled it for them. They see unfair things happening and they hear racist comments. Giving them the tools and vocabulary they need to recognize it and speak up about it will help them feel empowered to be a part of the solution and show a Black friend, stranger, or classmate that they can depend on your child to be an *ally. (See image below for a note on allyship)

When defining racism for your kids, please be sure to talk to them about microaggressions. Some kids (and adults) only think of racism as the really big and violent acts Black people face. It isn’t always easy to spot if you don’t know what all forms of it look like.

We need you to know that you and your kids can do racist things, even if you don’t identify yourself as a racist person. In the same way that a nice person can sometimes do or say mean things that are out of character, so can you or your children when it comes to doing or saying racist things. Now that you’ve committed to being more aware, you may notice things more clearly and be able to call it out every time you see it. And you’ll be able to change your behavior and apologize when you need to.

It may feel weird to tell your kid(s) they’ve done something racist. But it’s helpful to be direct. You aren’t going to yell at them about it, but you will need to remind them that it’s wrong. They will quickly learn to distinguish between what’s just being mean and what’s actually racist. Our own children have similar lessons. We, Black parents, have to teach them to identify racism they are experiencing, so that they can come tell us about it and can learn to advocate for themselves.

Make sure to also tell your kids WHY you all are focusing on being an ally to the Black community. Remind them that, everyone matters, but right now, you are focusing on the Black community and the racism they experience.

It’s important to tie racism into history. You know your child best. If you need to research enslavement, segregation, Jim Crow laws, protests, Juneteenth, white supremacy, and police brutality before engaging with your children so you feel prepared to answer their questions about where racism came from or why people are racist, make sure you do this before you sit down to have a lesson with them. Again, being prepared to have the conversation, will make you feel more comfortable. It will help you explain in your own words why this work is important for your family.

Throughout our guide you will see symbols that serve as visual cues. Sometimes your child will be asked to stop and reflect. Sometimes there will be a question to answer. We encourage caregivers to answer the questions, too. It is helpful for kids to see they are not alone in their feelings, thoughts, or experiences.

There is also a symbol for questions. Don’t forget to stop periodically to see how your child is processing the information. How are they feeling? What are they confused about? What would they like to know? Encourage them to ask! Be mindful of your tone or your facial expressions so that kids are not inadvertently discouraged from sharing honest answers. Remember, anything they’ve learned (from you or elsewhere) can be unlearned.

We made sure to include many exercises and questions that could lead to deeper conversations, but we can’t have the conversations for you. These lessons are only as effective as you allow them to be.

Here are some articles and book links that will help you with this resource:

CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO PURCHASE.

We hope you can shift away from thinking these conversations are too hard to have, to realizing these conversations are too important NOT to have.

Best,

LaNesha and Naomi

Because we realize the value of important topics like this, LaNesha and I love to make sure our own students and children are exposed to a variety of much needed social studies lesson. We teach kindergarten and first grade, but our students continue to amaze us with the big ideas they are able to handle!

What are your children learning in school for social studies? How diverse are the books being presented to them at school? It’s important for parents to continue to take an active role in what their students are learning!

You can push for culture nights at your school. Ask what anti-racist work your child’s school engages in. You may also want to ask how important inclusion and diversity is for every classroom in your child’s building.

Together, we can make a difference.

Click here to check out the social studies resources we have created. Consider purchasing a unit for a teacher to use. They are K-2 friendly!

K-2 Social Studies