Celebrating our Differences By: Whitney Wilkey


The main topic of this literature text set is celebrating our differences and is intended for second graders. This is an important topic to study for second graders. Not only are teachers of second graders supposed to be incorporating diverse cultures into their reading, but it is important for their social, cognitive and emotional development. In a social context, second graders typically change friendships quickly. They tend to get their feelings hurt and teachers of second graders may often hear the phrase, "nobody likes me" (Wood, 2007). Teaching this text set may expand their thinking, and try to socialize with other students in their class that may be different from them. It is also important for second graders to know that it is okay that people have differences. Emotionally, second graders tend to be sensitive to other's feelings, and notice every little detail (Wood, 2007). Second graders notice when they are being left out, or if they are not considered "cool." Although a literature text set may seem like a very small way to help students celebrate each others differences, but it could reach to a student who may decide to include the girl she always ignores at recess. At a second grader's stage in cognitive development, they are able to begin thinking in another person's point of view (The Seeing Seven-Year-Old, 2009). While reading these stories to students, they will be able to put themselves in the characters shoes. Most of the characters in the stories I chose have some sort of difference, or adversity they had to face growing up. With a second-grader's capacity to reflect on what they learned, my hope would be that they would incorporate the lessons from these texts and utilize them in their social lives. Lastly, second graders understand cultural and racial diversity, along with discrimination (Wood, 2007). At this stage in their life, they are understanding of diversity, but it is our job to teach them how to think about diversity. These books I have chosen for my text set all do a great job of explaining the differences among people and how to be kind to anyone who might be a little different than them.

My Brother Charlie

Author: Holly Robinson Peete & Ryan Elizabeth Peete

Illustrator: Shane W. Evans

Publisher: Scholastic Press

ISBN: 978-0545094665

Number of Pages: 40

Genre/Category: Realistic Fiction

Summary: Callie and Charlie are twins. The twins love to play, but Callie notices something different about Charlie. Sometimes Charlie gets silent and angry, this confuses Callie and even her parents. People outside of their family tell them "oh, it is just a phase! He will grow out of it." Callie and her parents don't think so. One day, Callie and her mother went to the doctor to get to the bottom of it. At the doctor, Charlie was diagnosed with Autism. Being diagnosed with Autism did not stop Callie and Charlie from playing together. Although he couldn't always do the things Callie could do, he knew all of the presidents, was great at swimming and even had a shell collection! This story shows children that just because someone has Autism, or any type of disability, that they still like to be included!

Standard: RL.2.5 – Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.

Objective: The student will identify how the characters in the story changed from the beginning to the end.

Reading First Components: In this story, the reading component is focused on comprehension and fluency. Based on the standard and objective, the students should focus on the changes of the characters from the beginning to the end using their comprehension strategies. The story can also be tied to fluency because there are different lengths of sentences. This will give students practice on reading with commas, and short/long sentences.

Six Areas of Language Arts: This story focuses on speaking and listening. After reading this aloud and having the students listen, this type of story deserves to be discussed at the end. We would discuss the changes in the characters, or how the story changed from the beginning to end based on the standard and objective. I would also like to incorporate a group discussion, or even partner discussion about thoughts or even personal experiences from this book. Asking students questions to see if they comprehended the story is not only important for the sake of the standard/objective, but also to make sure they understand the meaning that comes from this story.

School Days Around the World

Author: Margriet Ruurs

Illustrator: Alice Feagan

Publisher: Kids Can Press

ISBN: 978-1771380478

Number of Pages: 40

Genre/Category: Non-Fiction

Summary: This story gives a glimpse on how different children go to school around the world. The book describes 13 different children's typical day at school. The countries included are the Cook Islands, Singapore, China, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Turkey, Germany, Denmark, Venezuela, Honduras, the United States and Canada! The book elaborates on how some children may walk to school for several miles, live at the school or take the bus. At the end of the book, there is focus on how a lot of children do not have the opportunity to go to school like the children do in the United States. Although it is a fun story that describes different cultures, it also sheds a light on how fortunate children are to even be able to attend school!

Standard: RL.2.7 – Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

Objective: The student will gather information from the text, using pictures and words, to describe how each school in the book is different from theirs.

Reading First Components: The components this story focuses on is vocabulary and comprehension. In the story, students are introduced to several new vocabulary words. As the story is read, it would be important to stop and explain the word before moving on so they can make connections. As a teacher, my hope would be that at the end of the story and after discussion, students will be able to comprehend the differences between their school and the schools described in this book. Although the story is not in sequential order, it would be essential to ask students a question about each country's school.

Six Areas of Language Arts: To incorporate School Days Around the World I would use writing. Students could journal their predictions about how school days are different from theirs, then see how the outcome of each school day compared to their prediction. It would also be important to utilize the speaking area of language arts to have a discussion about the differences. Not only is the point to talk about the differences, but shed light to the students about how not everyone in the world has the same opportunity to go to school as they do. As I mentioned in my rationale, students at this age are starting to be more sensitive towards others and this would be a good discussion for broadening their socio-emotional development.

My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken and Me

Author: Maya Angelou

Photographer: Margaret Courtney-Clarke

Publisher: Dragonfly Books

ISBN: 978-0375825675

Number of Pages: 48

Genre/Category: Non-Fiction/Visual

Summary: This story is about a Ndebele girl named Thandi, from South Africa. She lives with her mother, father, aunt and her "mischievous" little brother. She loves to paint, and she uses her favorite chicken's feathers to do so. Thandi describes some of her favorite things about her village including all the painted houses, stringing and sewing beads and even playing with penny whistles. Even though she lives in an African village, she goes to school in the city and has to wear a uniform. Thandi loves when school is over because she can put her beads and blankets back on. This book is the perfect way to not only learn about different cultures, but see them with your own eyes!

Standard: RL.2.7 – Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

Objective: The students will develop stories about their favorite setting using pictures (drawings, cited photographs, or magazine cut outs) to describe it.

Reading First Components: The reading components used are fluency, phonics and comprehension. Phonics is incorporated in the lesson because of the wording on the pages. For example, the word shake actually represents that it is shaking. Since the book is written this way, it is important to keep fluency in mind. Students will be able to practice fluency with this challenging text. There are some parts of the story where the words are small, and then on some pages the words take up the entire page. It may be tricky for a second grader to read alone, but all together out loud would be beneficial. Comprehension is used because students will need to gather the information from the text in order to create a story of their own. I would ask students to ask these questions to themselves: what details did the author include that made the story interesting? How could I include details that make my setting interesting?

Six Areas of Language Arts: Students will use critically thinking skills to analyze why the author decided to make some words big and some small throughout the book. For example, one sentence says "and your legs must be strong, because sometimes... the walls are high." The statement "the walls are high" is placed higher than the rest of the sentence. Writing and speaking will be incorporated because the class will recreate a story about their favorite setting, and explaining why it is important to them.

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family's Fight for Desegregation

Author & Illustrator: Duncan Tonatiuh

Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 978-1419710544

Number of Pages: 40

Genre/Category: Non-Fiction

Summary: Based in In 1944, The Mendez Family lives in Westminister, California on a farm that the family leases. Mr. Mendez is originally from Mexico, but is a U.S. Citizen and Mrs. Mendez is Puerto Rican. When it was time to enroll their children in school, the Mendez children were denied the right to go to Westminister Elementary. The children were forced to go to the "Mexican school" even though they were U.S. Citizens. This story is about a family's fight for equality in the school system before Brown v. Board of Education decided separate was in fact not equal.

Standard: RI.2.3 – Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text.

Objective: The students will describe the sequence of events that led the Mendez family toward their goal and reflect on how separate is not equal.

Reading First Components: This story focuses on vocabulary and comprehension. The students will use this book to learn vocabulary that focuses on historical events, specifically the Civil Rights Movement. The students will also use comprehension to describe the sequence of events in the story.

Six Areas of Language Arts: I will use listening, speaking and writing when incorporating this book into the classroom. The students will listen to the story being told to them in a read aloud. Students will then use writing to describe the sequence of events that led the Mendez family to reaching their goal. Students will also write a reflection about why being separate would not be equal in reference to the story, and just in general. I would like to incorporate a group discussion about this as well to make sure the students not only understand writing about sequence, but developing a better understanding about these events in history.

Whoever You Are

Author: Mem Fox

Illustrator: Leslie Staub

Publisher: Voyager Books Harcourt, Inc.

ISBN: 978-0152060305

Number of Pages: 32

Genre/Category: Fiction Picture Book

Summary: Whoever You Are tells readers that there are children all around the world. Although their skin color and house may not look exactly like ours, but we are still the same. We are all human beings. All human beings laugh and cry the exact same. This book teaches children that no matter where you come from, we all have hearts filled with love for one another.

Standard: RL.2.2 - Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

Objective: The students will identify the moral of the text and describe what the story is telling us.

Reading First Components: This story focuses on phonics and fluency. This is a story that students can read to themselves to work on these reading components. The words in this story are right on target for second grade. Students can practice fluency with this story and master it. The short sentences in this story are perfect for practice.

Six Areas of Language Arts: The Language Arts areas I would choose for this story are reading, speaking and listening. This story can either be done as a read aloud, or independent reading. Before reading the book, it would be important to tell students the objective so they know what are are to be listening/looking for in the story. If students listen well, then the speaking part will go more smoothly. As a class, students can come up with that they think the moral of the story was. This can be done in group discussion, or whole class discussion. Another way this text could be utilized is by having the students read it to themselves, then write in a journal what they thought the meaning of the text is, then share.

The Story of Ruby Bridges

Author: Robert Coles

Illustrator: George Ford

Publisher: Scholastic

ISBN: 978-0439472265

Number of Pages: 32

Genre/Category: Non-Fiction

Summary: The Story of Ruby Bridges is about a brave, young girl who pushed through adversity, and deliberate racism to fight for a better education for all young children. She was one of the first girls to be integrated into an all white school in New Orleans. When the court ordered Ruby to attend this school, all of the white students stopped attending. There were protesters outside of the school everyday, but instead of retaliating, she decides to pray for them. This story not only tells about a historical event, but to treat people the way you want to be treated.

Standard: RI.2.3 – Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text.

Objective: The students will develop a better understanding of an important event in history, and apply the story to their writing.

Reading First Components: This story utilizes fluency and comprehension. The sentences are short, and simple which can help students practice fluency. The students will use comprehension to understand what Ruby went through and then apply it to their own writing in journals.

Six Areas of Language Arts: I will incorporate reading and writing. The students will read the story for independent reading. They can read it out loud, or silently. After the story the students will be given a few prompts based on the story to write about in their journals. One prompt will ask about the historical significance, and another will ask to connect the story to their own lives.

Something Beautiful

Author: Sharon Dennis Wyeth

Illustrator: Chris K. Soentpiet

Publisher: Dragonfly Books

ISBN: 978-0440412106

Number of Pages: 32

Genre/Category: Fiction

Summary: A young African American girl learns about the word "beautiful." She believes that when things are beautiful, your heart will be happy. The young girl looks all around her world for beautiful things. Even though some parts of her town may seem dirty and harsh, she finds beauty in even the smallest things. Once she realizes this, she decides that everything is beautiful in it's own way.

Standard: RL.2.6 – Acknowledge differences in the points of view of characters, including by speaking in a different voice for each character when reading dialogue aloud.

Objective: The students will learn to read stories with expression and voice, then utilize dialogue in their own writing.

Reading First Components: This story focuses on fluency. Students will have to practice reading this story and using dialogue. The students will practice reading aloud and using different voices for different characters. Reading sentences with dialogue is different than reading sentences without it. This is a chance for students to practice that.

Six Areas of Language Arts: The areas of language arts this story incorporates is speaking, reading and writing. Students will practice reading dialogue out loud and use different expressions for each character, and determine how they would speak. Then students will write their own short story using dialogue between two characters.

I Am Diversity

Author: Charles Bennafield

Publisher: Charles Bennafield

Genre/Category: Poetry/Fiction

Summary: In this poem, diversity acts as a living thing. With diversity, nothing is impossible. Diversity begs to be included in order to bring hope to the rest of the world. Diversity believes that if it is recognized by all people then all lives will be fulfilled.

Standard: RL.2.4 – Describe how words and phrases (e.g., regular beats, alliteration, rhymes, repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song

Standard: SL.2.3 – Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.

Objective: The students will be able to recognize rhyming words, along with interpreting what message Diversity is trying to portray.

Reading First Components: The components that are present in this literary piece is phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary and comprehension. In the poem there are regular beats, alliteration, and rhyming words, which can help with phonemic awareness. Students will also be recognizing the pattern of rhyming words. Some students may not even understand what diversity actually is- this would be a good way to introduce diversity to students. There are also words such as inclusion, unmasked, exclude, embraced and ingenuity. Although it is not expected of second graders to know this vocabulary, the words should be explained to them in order for them to comprehend the poem. Comprehension is also a component because I would like students to try to understand what the poem is trying to say.

Six Areas of Language Arts: The areas of language arts that could be used are reading, viewing, listening and speaking. Before the students read the poem and search for rhyming words, the teacher should read the poem aloud to the students so they can be listening for rhyming words and words they have questions about. I would also like for the students to read the poem aloud to themselves so they know how it sounds. The students could each be given a poem and underline words that rhyme. An important aspect to note is that since this lesson is for second graders, the poem could be shortened when given to them. Incorporating a class discussion about diversity and what the meaning of the poem is would be important to build classroom community. Not only does this poem go along with a standard, but it is also important to teach students about these issues so they can bring hope to future generations.

Maya Angelou

Artist: Nate Williams

Publisher: N8W

Type of Artwork: Collage and Painting

Standard: SL.2.2 – Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.

Standard: SL.2.3 – Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.

Objective: The students will interpret how the painting matches with the quote in collage form. The students will then be given a quote about diversity and draw a picture that summarizes the text.

Reading First Components: The components present are vocabulary and comprehension. The students may not understand the word tapestry and how it is being used. It would be important to give the students the definition of this word, but also other words that they may understand that has the same meaning. The students will then gather information from the quote and picture to comprehend what the quote is saying and how the quote matches to the painting of flowers.

Six Areas of Language Arts: The areas of language arts I would incorporate are viewing, writing, speaking and visual representation. The students will first view the artwork and write down their thoughts about what they think the meaning is. Having the students share their thoughts about the artwork and quote will be beneficial to help other students as well. It is also important to make sure all students come together to understand the meaning of the quote and it's connection to the picture. A group or class discussion would lead the students to a better understanding of the quote. Students will then create their own picture that represents a quote given to them, which is how visual representation is incorporated.

Embracing Our Differences: Horizons

Artist: Milt Masur

Publisher: Saatchi Art

Type of Artwork: Oil Pastel Painting

Standard: RL.2.1 – Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

Standard: RL.2.7 – Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

Objective: The students will interpret their own meaning of the illustration, describing the who, what, where, when, why and how of the image.

Reading First Component: Students will comprehend the image based on the who, what, when, where, why and how they come up with.

Six Areas of Language Arts: Students will use viewing, visual representation, critical thinking, and writing for this painting. Students will first view the photo and write down what the picture means to them. Then students will use visual representation to interpret the image; coming up with the who, what, when, where, why and how. It is important to utilize discussion during this time because some students may be completely confused about interpreting an image. Having students share ideas may help another student come up with a different way of thinking, which is where the critical thinking portion of language arts is used. The students will be writing the key details of the image to establish the meaning of it.


(2009). The Seeing Seven-Year-Old. Responsive Classroom. Retrieved from: https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/the-seeing-seven-year-old/

Angelou, M. (2003). My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me. Photographed by M. Courtney-Clarke. New York: Crown Books for Young Readers.

Anthony, Michelle. Cognitive Development in 6-7 Year Olds. Scholastic. Retrieved from: http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/stages-milestones/cognitive-development-6-7-year-olds

Bennafield, Charles. “I Am Diversity, Please Include Me.” Slide Share, https://www.slideshare.net/ChristinaSookdeo/inclusion-in-early-childhood-education. 2012.

Coles, R. (2015). The Story of Ruby Bridges. Illustrated by G. Ford. New York: Scholastic.

Fox, M. (2006). Whoever You Are. Illustrated by L. Staub. San Diego: Voyager Books Harcourt, Inc.

Masur, Milt. (2008). Embracing Our Differences: Horizons. [Oil Pastel Painting]. Saatchi Art, Los Angeles. Retrieved from: https://www.saatchiart.com/art/-Embracing-Our-Differences-Horizons/189663/111915/view

Peete, H.R. & Peete, R.E. (2010). My Brother Charlie. Illustrated by S.W. Evans. New York: Scholastic Press.

Ruurs, M. (2015). School Days Around the World. Illustrated by A. Feagan. Toronto: Kids Can Press.

Tonatiuh, D. (2014). Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Williams, Nate. (2016). Maya Angelou. [Collage and Painting]. N8W, Buenos Aires. Retrieved from: http://www.n8w.com/

Wood, C. (2007). Yardsticks: Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14. (Book). Turner Falls, MA: Center for Responsive Schools, Inc. (3rd edition).

Wyeth, S.D. (2002). Something Beautiful. Illustrated by C.K. Soentpiet. New York: Dragonfly Books.

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Whitney Wilkey

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