BOOKS

cover of What Makes us Unique?
What Makes us Unique?
Dr. Jillian Roberts, illustrated by Cindy Revell Orca Book Publishers, 2016 32 pages, $19.95
*****
Reviewed by Elena Vandergeest

What Makes Us Unique? is a picture book that can serve as an effective teaching tool to facilitate meaningful conversations about diversity and acceptance. The colourful illustrations are reiterations of the importance and value of diversity and acceptance since “just like [a] rainbow, the world is made beautiful because it’s filled with many different kinds of people.” The book has several sections that examine what makes us different and what these differences mean.

This picture book can support an educator in establishing a classroom culture of respect and understanding. A salient message of the book is that “we should always try to understand and respect people’s different ways of being in the world.” It is important for students to be consistently reminded that “even though there are things that make each of us different, we are all equally important…[and] we all deserve love, respect and compassion regardless of what we look like or how we live our lives.”

This book aligns strongly with several of the fundamental principles discussed in the revised health and physical education curriculum (2015), specifically the third principle that “physical and emotional safety is a precondition for effective learning in health and physical education.” This book is a great way to begin meaningful conversations about health topics that have implications for our students’ well-being. What Makes Us Unique? can serve as an engaging platform and mentor text for many conversations focusing on caring behaviours (grade one), relating positively to others (grade two) and factors that affect emotional development (grade three). Overall, this a great teaching tool for the primary educator.

Elena Vandergeest is a member of the Simcoe County Occasional Teacher Local.

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