“When I say a word, shout out the first word that comes to mind. Ready? Peanut Butter….”
“Let’s try again. Macaroni and…”
“One more…. Hugs and”
“Wow! That was kinda like magic. I got ALL of you to say the same word. But here’s the thing. It isn’t magic. Our brains are wired after hearing these pair of words together so often, it becomes the rule. They go together.
This is how I started a lesson last week before reading aloud Matt and Christian’s newest book, Milo Imagines the World, a pair of authors that also go together!
I went on and explained to my 3rd grade audience:
“Today, I also want to introduce you to a word – stereotype. The definition of stereotype is a widely held image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.
The thing about STEREOTYPES is that as humans it can sometimes be unkind when a person or an idea is ONLY thought of one way. For example, peanut butter and banana sandwiches are cool too. And we would not want to be unkind toward a person who likes their sandwich that way. Instead, we want to be open to learning about people and ideas and being accepting of all the ways people and ideas can be.
I share this word stereotype because in Matt and Christian’s new book, the main character, Milo, notices strangers while taking a Sunday ride on the subway car and he sketches what he imagines their life to be. By the end of his journey he does not use the word stereotype in the story but he does start to realize that he had a biased view or a stereotypical reaction to the people he sketches. Kinda like you saying jelly when I said peanut butter. And Milo learns an important lesson. Maybe you can’t know anyone just by looking at their face, a line from the book.“
I ended interactive read-aloud lesson saying this and showing a 2-minute video:
“Readers, we want to have flexible brains. We don’t want to just think one way. There is a group of kids who got together with a camera man and a director and made a public service announcement, a commercial. They felt like people were seeing them only one way and they wanted it to stop.
Let’s watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUG811lqtRs
Readers, today and everyday, I want you to remember this word stereotype. Be sure to realize that even though your brain may be wired to put two things together, like peanut butter and jelly, you don’t want to hold a biased view or have a stereotypical reaction to people. Let’s remember when we see strangers that “Maybe you can’t know anyone just by looking at their face.”
Have you met Milo yet? I predict you will and will again.
This pair of authors taught me a valuable lesson.
It is one I’ll keep sharing with others.
I hope you do too.