Among our bedtime books tonight was Dr. Seuss' Sneetches, where the star-bellied Sneetches and the plain-bellied Sneetches live in a segregated world. As the star-bellied mom teaches her star-bellied son to be contemptuous of the plain-bellied Sneetch, and there's all kind of name-calling going on, Maya gets incensed. She says, "I'd tell that guy that I'm from China and I live in Texas, and it's not nice to make fun of people. Sometimes they make fun of my sister, like the "Chinese eyes" thing and I can tell you it doesn't make her feel good! I'd tell that guy to stop making fun of people who are different. Everyone is different, and that's the way God wants it! So I'd tell that guy. . . ." As Maya's diatribe winded down, Zoe added her two cents worth: "You know, if you look at the [digital] clock upside down, it says LOL."
LOL indeed! A complete role-reversal for my kids! Maya, the I-don't-like-to-be-different QUEEN, is lauding the value of difference. Maya, who often checks out on a bedtime story about difference by standing on her head, is completely engaged in the story. Zoe, who loves to talk about how to handle teasing, who loves books about differences, is standing on her head. I think I need to check the basement for pods!
If you haven't looked at it, Sneetches is a great book to use to start a conversation about prejudice and discrimination, especially about how it is really a socially created, rather than a natural, reaction to difference. For classroom use, here's a lesson plan for use with the book.