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Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty

Read + Discuss

Picture Book Lesson Plan

GUIDED ANTI-BIAS/ANTI-RACIST READING | GRADES K+

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INTRODUCTION

This lesson is a guided reading experience designed to accompany Daniel Beaty’s picture book Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me. It was written by Jenny Lomeli as part of her 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.


YOUTUBE READ ALOUD

Knock, Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me read by Sankofa Online African American Children’s Stories.


SUMMARY

A young boy named Daniel played games with his father each morning, until one day when everything changed. Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty tells the powerful story of a young Black child who faces the challenging reality of having an absent parent (while it is not directly stated why Daniel’s father is absent, he notes in interviews about the book that his father was incarcerated) and experiences the difficult and painful reality of growing up and living without his father. As a result, Daniel believes he must teach himself lessons that his father is unable to as a result of the distance between them. Daniel does his best to create an image of his father in his mind to prevent losing him altogether.


As Daniel grows older, he receives a letter from his dad. Through reading the letter, he is able to reconcile some of his past emotions about his father. The letter sends Daniel a message of strength, forgiveness, and love that helps him to move forward. Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me is an insightful piece that gives a voice to children impacted by loss of a family member to an unjust criminal justice system.


OBJECTIVES

This guided reading lesson is designed to be part of a larger life-long commitment to anti-racist teaching and learning students and facilitators. 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 IN THIS LESSON

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.


Identity

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

Domain #8

I want to know more about other people’s lives and experiences, and I know how to ask questions respectfully and listen carefully and non-judgmentally.


Action

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

  • Daniel’s father is physically absent as he grows up. But he is present in other ways. Talk about the ways his father is still there in Daniel’s life. IDENTITY DOMAIN #3

  • Daniel has to teach himself many of the things his father couldn't. Have you ever taught yourself something? How did doing that by yourself make you feel? IDENTITY DOMAIN #3

  • Does learning something new impact who you are? IDENTITY DOMAIN #3

  • Daniel and his father would play Knock Knock every morning, what’s your favorite game to play with your family? DIVERSITY DOMAIN #8

  • Do you have any family traditions? If so, how would you feel if they suddenly stopped? DIVERSITY DOMAIN #8

  • How do you think Daniel felt when he couldn't play Knock Knock with his father anymore? DIVERSITY DOMAIN #8

  • Have you ever been away from a parent or a caretaker for a long time? If so, how did that make you feel? DIVERSITY DOMAIN #8

  • Daniel wrote a letter to his dad but never sent it. Have you ever written a letter to a loved one? ACTION DOMAIN #17

  • If you could write a letter to anyone, who would it be to and would it say? ACTION DOMAIN #17

  • Have you ever written a letter to an organization or someone in a position of power to stand up for yourself or others? Why is it important that we speak up when we notice something is wrong or someone is hurt? ACTION DOMAIN #17


RESOURCES & ACTIVITY

How to Write a Letter (resource)

Watch Daniel Beaty recite “Knock Knock” (video)

Write a letter to a friend or family member and send it.


READ NEXT

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How Mamas Love Their Babies by Juniper Fitzgerald

Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls

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