Rebecca Zak is an award-winning author of The Cutest Face: Celebrating Diversity & Equity in the Classroom.
Rebecca is a Peel District Elementary Teacher and a PhD in Education candidate who has written and illustrated a research-based children’s book/teachers’ resource focusing on inclusion.
Her objective was to create a classroom resource that mirrors the broad diversity of people living in Canada. Rebecca says, “I was inspired by my own multicultural, multi-abled students to produce a story that any child – no matter their background – could pick up and recognize him or herself in.”
The story takes place on picture day at school; the teacher narrator talks about how each child is unique and special, while diversity is conveyed implicitly through the hand-painted oil portrait illustrations. The child characters have been rendered highly realistically in order to make them look like real people readers may meet in their neighbourhood or school. Ultimately the message is of inclusion.
This hardcover book comes with a free downloadable teachers’ guide with discussion questions and activities, and is available in English and French. It was also honoured by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario as a recent winner of their Arts and Culture Award.
Some video links: