Created by: Paulina Hernandez Pena
Where Are You From?
Written by Yamile Saied Mendez
Illustrated by Jaime Ki
Growing up, I remember constantly being asked the question, “Where are you from?” It seems like a simple question with a simple answer. I come from an undocumented background, but I was brought to the United States as a child. My understanding of where I
come from is where I settled — in Oregon. But “Oregon” was never accepted as the correct answer as peers and the adults around me proceeded to ask me where I was really from.
The picturebook begins with a young girl constantly being interrogated by her peers and adults around her about where she is really from...even after she gives them answers. “Where are you from?” they ask. Tired of the constant questioning, she turns to her abuelo for answers as she realizes he also looks like he doesn’t belong. Abuelo tells her she comes from the pampas, the gaucho, mountains, blue oceans, hurricanes, and dark storms, and the girl learns more about her identity through the experience of her family member.
Where Are You From? is a great book to validate the experiences of young multiracial children who are often faced with this question. It can also be a great conversation starter about race and racial microaggressions. Although sometimes these questions can seem (or be) insensitive, children can begin exploring where they are from in order to feel comfortable in answering where they are from if they choose to.
Has someone asked you where you are from? How did you respond? How did it make you feel? Was your answer questioned?
Where are you from? (Note: We can begin by dismantling the question that is often used as a microaggression. Students can explore their heritage through this question. A fun activity to pair with this question is to take inspiration from the beautiful illustration in the book and make art that represents where they are from.)
Where are your parents from? (Note: A sense of connectedness to their ethnic identity can be made through learning about family identity.)
After exploring where you are from how do you feel? What is something new that you learned about yourself and your family?
Relevant Identity & Diversity
Standards for Grades K-2
Teaching Tolerance Diversity Standard 7: I can describe some ways that I am similar to and different from people who share my identities and those who have other identities.
Teaching Tolerance Diversity Standard 8: I want to know about other people and how our lives and experiences are the same and different.
Available for purchase at my local bookstore Annie Bloom’ Books with delivery options
Watch and Listen to Ms. King read “Where Are You From? ”aloud Here
“I Am From”
Watch student read aloud their “I am From” Poem Here.
Create your own “I am from” Poem with A template provided by the Santa Ana Unified School District Here.