SEL Reads. Dr. C Leads. October Books of the Month Highlight Diversity and Acceptance

This month, our Superintendent Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen encourages everyone across the District to read books that promote diversity and acceptance. Our social and emotional learning (SEL) books for the month of October are The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López for elementary readers, Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai for middle school readers, and Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult for high school readers.

October Theme: Diversity and Acceptance

We show appreciation for diverse perspectives and experiences.

Book Summaries

  • The Day You Begin (elementary selection), is a beautiful and inclusive story that encourages children to find the beauty in their own lives and share it with the world. Each child feels very alone until they begin to share their stories and discover that it is nearly always possible to find someone a little like you. López’s vibrant illustrations bring the characters’ hidden and unspoken thoughts to light with fantastic, swirling color. Shifting hues and textures across the page convey their deep loneliness and then slowly transition into bright hopeful possibilities.
  • In Inside Out & Back Again (middle school selection), for all the 10 years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food . . . and the strength of her very own family.
  • Small Great Things (high school selection), is a thought-provoking example of racism in America. A nurse in Connecticut with more than 20 years of experience is forbidden by parents to touch their newborn child.

SEL Competency

Social awareness allows individuals to take others’ perspectives into account and to empathize with others. Socially aware students are more likely to recognize and appreciate the similarities and differences of others. Social awareness is particularly important for students as they participate in new instructional shifts. Students need to take the perspectives of their classmates during classroom discussions and attempt to empathize and relate with characters during analysis of texts.

Several copies of each book are available at school libraries/media centers and can also be found in myBackpack via Class Pass @APS.

In Other SEL News …

Last month, the SEL team and Fine Arts department collaborated in supporting APS art classes across the District to make pinwheels with ideas of peace, love, hope and harmony on them. When creating the pinwheels, students were asked to draw on their SEL core competency of self-awareness to design or write a message on their pinwheel, using the prompt, “What Peace Means to Me.”  

SEL collected almost 1,000 pinwheels, which will be sent this week as an art installation to the El Paso Independent School District, an SEL CASEL sister city, as an offering of peace during the city’s time of healing after the tragic events in August. This project was based on the Pinwheels for Peace project, which aims to help students make a public visual statement about their feelings about war, peace, bullying, tolerance, cooperation, harmony, unity, and, in some way, maybe, awaken the public and let them know what the next generation is thinking.

For more information on Pin Wheels for Peace, click here.

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