PICTURE BOOK LESSON PLAN
GUIDED ANTI-BIAS/ANTI-RACIST READING | GRADES 3+
BOOK Don’t Touch My Hair, Written by Sharee Miller
LESSON PLAN CREATION Refugio Luna
LESSON PLAN EDITING Bridget Fuller & Kevin Lembke,
This lesson is a guided reading experience designed to accompany Sharee Miller’s picture book Don’t Touch My Hair. Lesson content was written by Refugio Luna as part of his work in the Social Justice in K12 Education course at Portland State University and was designed to start or deepen anti-bias conversations in families and other learning communities.
LISTEN TO THE READ ALOUD
SUMMARY + PERSONAL NOTE
This book is about a young Black girl named Aria and her experience with maneuvering through society with natural hair. The story begins with a brief introduction, followed by her expressing her love for her own hair. She then speaks about how others share her love for her hair, and she very much appreciates it. However, they sometimes take it too far by invading her personal space. They do things like touch it without permission or make comments about its texture, and the effect is that she begins to feel the need to isolate herself. Aria quickly learns that this is not the solution, as she describes her feelings of loneliness in isolation. So she returns to society, but this time with a different attitude. She is willing to accept compliments, but will not stand for unwanted physical interactions. She stands her ground and tells everyone that they can make their remarks, but they must ask before touching. She says that there are times where she will say no, and it must be respected, as well as times where she will say yes, and you are welcome to feel her hair.
My mother is of Afro-Latino descent. Both she and my sister have extremely curly hair, which they both love. Throughout their life they have received a lot of attention for it, which is welcome most of the time. Unfortunately, there have also been moments where they have felt uncomfortable. Unwanted remarks, or unwanted physical interactions have occurred to both of them. These became frequent enough that they became extremely frustrated. The way my mother described it was that she began to feel like there was a disconnect between her and her humanity. What she meant by this was that people were not treating her like the individual person that she was. Without asking, they would ‘pet’ her head, or dig their fingers into her hair. These people did not show enough respect to even ask for permission. Instead they would do as they please assuming that she would be okay with it.
This really translates to the basic idea of consent. Without permission, it is not okay to proceed with actions. In terms of children, they are very curious at a young age. They might see someone with different features, in this case hair texture, and feel the urge to either say something or make a physical connection. On the other hand, for those who are feeling like my mother and sister did, it is important to encourage them to stand up for themselves. It is okay to tell people “no.” It’s your hair, your body, and you can choose what to do with it.
This guided reading lesson is designed to be part of a larger life-long commitment to anti-racist teaching and learning for the student and the facilitator. Reading Is Resistance sees reading as an opportunity to seed deeper conversations and opportunities for action around racial equity in our communities. We hold the belief that being anti-racist is a process of learning (and unlearning) over time.
The Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards (focused on Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action) serve as guides for our work.
TEACHING TOLERANCE STANDARDS REFERENCED
The Teaching Tolerance Standards and Domains referenced in this lesson are for Grades 3-5. This book, however, can be used with a wide range of ages. Domains featured in this lesson are as follows:
Identity Standard, Domain #3 I know that all my group identities are part of who I am, but none of them fully describes me and this is true for other people too.
Diversity Standard, Domain #6 I like knowing people who are like me and different from me, and I treat each person with respect.
Justice Standard, Domain #11 I try and get to know people as individuals because I know it is unfair to think all people in a shared identity group are the same.
Action Standard, Domain #17 I know it’s important for me to stand up for myself and for others, and I know how to get help if I need ideas on how to do this.
READ + DISCUSS QUESTIONS
Do you know what consent is? If you are curious about something, is it respectful to ask for permission before saying or doing something about it? DIVERSITY DOMAIN #6
Do you or any of your friends have something unique about yourselves that everyone always comments on? Do you think that it would be okay for them to judge you based off of it? JUSTICE DOMAIN #11
Even though you or a close friend may have different physical features, do you think that it is okay to be treated any differently? IDENTITY DOMAIN #3
Can you think of a respectful way to ask someone who looks different than you, questions about their culture identity? DIVERSITY DOMAIN #6
Do you think that it is fair to judge someone based on their looks before getting to know them? jUSTICE DOMAIN #11
Do you think that it was fair for people to want to touch Aria’s hair all the time? How did you feel when she stood up for herself and said “no”? ACTION DOMAIN #17
ACTIVITIES & RESOURCES
Hair Love, by Matthew A. Cherry
Love Your Hair! by Phoenyx Austin, M.D.
I Am Enough, by Grace Byers