Multicultural Book Read Aloud

By: Hailey Adams

"The Colors of Us" by Karen Katz

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"The Colors of Us" was written and illustrated by Karen Katz and was published by Henry Holt and Company in New York, NY in 1999.

This read aloud is planned for Kindergarteners. "The Colors of Us" is a picture book about a girl named Lena, who is seven years old, who's mom is trying to teacher her about all the different shades of brown that can be found in all of her friends and other people in her neighborhood. Although this book has not won any awards, it has been nominated for a Reading Association Award and Child magazine Best Book designation in 2000.

This picture book is a great way to introduce differences between themselves and the people that they see around them and embrace them. It provides opportunity for reflection by making them think about ways that people around them are similar but different.

Background Preperation for Read Aloud and Vocabulary Presentation

Karen Katz is an author and illustrator of many children's picture books. She is known for her colorful and unique artistic illustrations in her books. She draws inspiration from folk art from around the world in her stories and wrote many of them because she was inspired by the adoption of her and her husband's daughter, Lena, from Guatemala. Lena was the inspiration and the focus for her book, The Colors of Us. She wanted to show the diversity and to show people that they should be happy with their unique qualities and embrace the differences that make them who they are. Karen wanted to get that message across to her daughter and her friends.
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Evalutation of Picture Book

1. This picture book meets the criteria for honoring and celebrating diversity. All throughout this book, there are multiple representations of different cultures by showing all different skin tones, sexes, and a range of ages in the people that are represented in the book, and they are also all shown as being happy and proud of who they are.

2. The Colors of Us also includes characters of different cultural groups that interact authentically with one another. They are all members of the same community, but they all live together and accept and embrace one another's differences. The characters include the main character, Lena's friends and various people from her neighborhood, including a worker at the pizza parlor, the woman that runs the Laundromat, and the owner of a grocery store market.

3. Lastly, this book also invites reflection, critical analysis, and responses for groups of all ages. It invites students and other readers to reflect on what the meaning or moral of the story is and how it is relevant to them. Why did the author look at so many different types of people with a wide range of skin tones and differences? Is this something that you see in your everyday life? It teaches the lesson that despite someone's skin color or culture or any other difference, we should all be proud and happy with who we are and can be friends with each other.

Procedures for Implementing the Read Aloud and Vocabulary Presentation (Talking Notes)

1. First, call the students to the carpet for the read aloud and set behavioral expectations. Be at a 0 voice level unless asked a question, no movement, and be engaged in the activity/story

2. Tell the students what you will be doing for this activity. "Today kindergarteners we will be reading this book called The Colors of Us by Karen Katz."

3. Before you begin reading, introduce the students to the words "similar" and "different." "We will be talking about the words similar and different. Similar means to have one or more things in common or the same, and different means to not be the same." Have the students try and give examples of things that are similar and different between the CT and yourself, such as hair, eyes, glasses, height, etc.

4. Tell the students to be thinking about those words while we are reading the story because we will be talking about them after we are reading.

5. Ask the students what are some things that make themselves similar or different from other students in the class. Call on a couple students to answer. Correct or clarify for them if they are wrong.

6. Pull out the book, and show the students the cover of the story. Ask "what do you think the story is going to be about after looking at the cover?" Have a couple of students answer before beginning the story.

7. Read through the page that talks about Lena's cousin Kyle in the book and ask the students another question. Ask them "why do you think that Lena's mother is bringing her to all these places to see these people?" By this point, they should realize that the story is about how people look different based on their skin color, so their answers should be about that. If they aren't, guide them to that general topic.

8. Continue reading through the end of the story. Ask the students, "if Lena cares that all of her friends, family, and other people that she knows have different shades of brown in their skin? Call on a couple of students to answer.

9. Also ask the students if it matters what color of skin people have or what they look like, and should it affect the way that you treat someone? Have them answer as a whole group. The answers should both be "no."

10. As a closure to the reading, ask a few students what kind of food that they think their skin color looks like?

11. For the final part of the vocabulary lesson, have the students find their shoulder partner, and then have them each point out 1 thing that is similar and 1 thing that they see is different between their partners and themselves. Walk around and observe and monitor to see that the students understand the difference between the two vocabulary terms, similar and different. You can call on a couple students to share out to verify understanding of the vocabulary terms.

Reflection Following the Read Aloud and Vocabulary Presentation

-I selected this picture book to read aloud because the students in my class recognize that there are differences among/between themselves and their friends. Also because there are a lot of colors throughout the story and a feeling of acceptance and celebrations for the diversity of the people in the book.

-The strengths were that the kids really liked the book because of the interesting pictures, colors, and the fun words that they don't hear often. They were really interested in the story. They also grasped the concept of the vocabulary words very well, and I could verify this by listening and observing their responses out loud and with their partners. My CT liked how I had them talk to their shoulder partners because she had been trying to work on that with them.

-For the next time, I would start the lesson my engaging them better and taking more control of the room more. Also, I forgot some of the questions that I was going to ask them before the reading and after. Possibly, I will put sticky notes in the book to help me remember.

-Implementing multicultural children's literature that is culturally and linguistically diverse relative to my elementary students has helped me see how my students view the world and the people around them. Also, it helps them see that not everyone in the world looks like them, and that is okay and a good thing.

Overall, I feel like my read aloud went better than I expected but could have been better. I was really nervous, so hopefully next time I won't be as much!