While attending a Diversity training by Dr. Kalise Wornum, she mentioned a book Ouch! Moments by Michael Genhart. Dr. Wornum recommended this book specifically for helping young students understand microaggressions. With everything going on in the news, I felt this was the perfect time to address this with my students.
This book describes the different ways that words can be used to hurt someone else. It also addresses the reasons that someone might use hurtful words and what bystanders can do to help someone who is experiencing hurtful words. What I also liked about this book is that it gives students easy steps to think about when they witness or experience hurtful words such as “Be calm or Be yourself.” Over and over it is reiterated that the most important thing is that children continue to be themselves and not let the words of others change the way they think about themselves.
I read this aloud to my group of first, second, and fourth graders. We talked about hurtful words and when they can turn into microaggressions or racism.They were all able to understand and express the ways in which they could help someone if they witnessed this behavior. In fact, that day at recess, my students stuck up for a student that was called an “idiot.” They used the information in the text to stand up for their peer by saying “those are hurtful and untrue words. Please don’t say that anymore.” They let the situation cool off and then addressed it with a teacher. They were able to tell me that they knew what to do because of the story we had read.
I highly recommend this story to help teach students about what hurtful words are and what they can do to stop people from using hurtful words. I have witnessed first hand that this book does give students the power to stand up for themselves and others. There is also a page in the back of the book to help educators and parents continue the conversation.