Just Like Me

Just Like Me
Posted on 01/14/2022

It is almost lunch time at Rock Creek Elementary, and Kristi Collins’ kindergarten class sits to hear the book, “I Promise” by LeBron James.  The book positively verbalizes commitments children can make that can make positive impacts in their lives, their schools and their communities.  Collins introduces vocabulary used in the story, in her class they are also known as “Sparkle words.” As Collins progressed through the story, the class sparkled when “humble.” “second chance,” “peers” and other vocabulary words were read.  The diversity of people was discussed as well as the commonalities of the people in the illustrations.  At the end of the story, Sabreen O. said, “It felt good to see someone with a hijab like me.”

girl in hijab interacts with book illustration

Last spring, many counter-narrative titles were distributed through all Tahoma pre-kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms.  

Emilie Hard, Director of Equity, defines counter-narrative as “a message that offers a positive alternative to a widely accepted stereotype.”  Counter-narratives give people a voice who might not as often be heard, and they can be used to share a different point of view that may not have been previously considered by the reader. Having counter narratives available for our students not only supports historically marginalized groups, but expands awareness and knowledge for everyone. They could also be referred to as Alternative Narratives, or Diverse Representation in Literature.

At Glacier Park Elementary, Wendy Hogan’s fourth grade class had a dynamic discussion following a reading of Amanda Gorman’s book, “Change Sings”.  After reading the poem, the class discussed the poem’s meaning, the movement within the illustrations and some students expressed some personal conclusions. One student said, “If you change in a positive way, the world can be better.” Another student said, “We can all make a difference. In the book she helped everybody else, and others joined her.” A third student added, “It doesn’t matter where you come from, you all come from the same world.”

Hard stated that narratives are important because “All students need to feel supported, respected and seen. Students are more apt to succeed academically, socially and personally if they are exposed to materials that include people and characters that look like them. When educational materials include multiple perspectives in literature, history and other content areas, students are more willing to engage in meaningful and respectful conversations that extend beyond the classroom.”

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