Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Suki's Kimono

Summary: Suki’s Kimono is about a first-grade girl determined to wear a kimono on her first day of school. Her sisters warn her that it is not “cool”, but she doesn’t care. The kimono reminds her of the summer she spent with her grandmother and the street fair she attended that celebrated Japanese culture. No matter who snickers at her clothing, she stands proud. Suki’s teacher asks the class to share stories about their summer vacations. Suki describes her time with her grandmother. The best part of the festival was the dancing, which she demonstrates for the class. The entire class claps and celebrates her dancing skills. Suki dances the whole way home proud of her achievements for the day.

Reflections:This book has beautiful illustrations and is just very enjoyable to read. Suki takes pride in her culture and beliefs. She is only a first-grader, yet is able to ignore others in order to be true to herself and what she really loves. It shows a willingness from others to accept, appreciate, and learn from classmates' cultures and ways of dress. But beyond cultural appreciation, it illustrates self-acceptance, something difficult for children and adults alike. Suki is unwavering in her faith in herself and her culture. She is not embarrassed of her kimono and dancing like her sisters, but proudly displays it and shares it with others.

How I Would Use the Book: This book lends itself extremely well to discussing many cultures within a classroom. Children could easily discuss and inquire about their own cultures and share this knowledge with their classmates. A teacher could use this book during a unit about cultures and traditions, or social norms and mores.
Besides cultures, this book is excellent for teaching children about self-pride and respect, or even feeling different. It can help children embraces differences and be proud of who they are today and the background of their families. The children could explore one unique thing about themselves or their families and become an expert on it and present it to the entire class.

Domains of Social Justice: 1. Self-Love and Acceptance: Clearly Suki displays this from the beginning to the end of the story. 2. Respect for Others: Suki earns the respect of her classmates once they understand her reason for wearing the kimono and watch her dance performance. 4. Social Movements and Social Change: Hopefully after reading this story, children will take an active role in understanding and appreciating the differing cultures of the classmates and neighbors. They will begin to seek out opportunities to further explore people who are different from themselves.


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