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Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham

Read + Discuss

Picture Book Lesson Plan

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


Not My Idea_ A Book About Whiteness
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INTRODUCTION

This lesson is a guided reading experience designed to accompany Anastasia Higgenbotham’s picture book Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness. Lesson content was written by Nicole Damon 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

Not My Idea read by Jenna Giles Turner, Chippewa Falls Public Library


SUMMARY

This story follows a young white girl who witnesses the unjust shooting of a BIPOC person by police officers while watching television. After asking her mother to explain to her what is happening, her mother offers her little explanation and turns off the news. By doing this, her mother turns off the child’s communication as well as her ability to understand the world around her. Her mother explains to her that she comes from a family that “doesn’t see color”. However, the young girl knows deep down that this is not the answer she is looking for.

The story contrasts between the privileges that white people experience on a daily basis and the barriers that BIPOC people face. It also emphasizes the reality that racism is everyone’s problem. Even though racism “was not your idea,” you can still face, question and even challenge racism, rather than ignore it.

As a result of her unanswered questions along with the racial inequities that the girl notices, she experiences emotional turmoil, including frustration and anger, puzzlement, and curiosity while trying to find truths about the events happening in her life. With all these mixed feelings growing inside her, the girl finally expresses to her mom the truths that she feels within herself about racism and injustice. Though this may have been a challenge for the girl, it is important for anyone of any age to have conversations that promote awareness and cultural understanding. The book ends with a thought-provoking question for the reader.


OBJECTIVES

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 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. Domains featured in this lesson are as follows:


Identity

Domain #1

I know and like who I am and can talk about my family and myself and describe our various group identities.


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.


Justice

Domain #12

I know when people are treated unfairly, and I can give examples of prejudice words, pictures, and rules.


Action

Domain #19 I will speak up or do something when I see unfairness, and I will not let others convince me to go along with injustice.

READ + DISCUSS QUESTIONS

BEFORE READING

  • How does each member of your family define ‘racism’? Is there a definition that you all agree on? JUSTICE DOMAIN #12

  • Does your family “see color”? If anyone answers ‘no, have your family discuss how it is problematic to not see differences in other’s identities including skin color. DIVERSITY DOMAIN #8

  • Have you recently watched something in the current news and asked your parents to explain what was happening? How did you feel afterwards? DIVERSITY DOMAIN #8

AFTER READING

  • Can you describe your family's various group identities? If so, what are they? If , have your family discuss your identities that make you and your family unique. IDENTITY DOMAIN #1

  • Why does skin color matter in the world we live in? Has this story changed your outlook

  • Do you feel brave enough to move forward in your life and openly talk about racism with your family? What are some ways that you can think of to combat racism when you see or hear it in public? ACTION DOMAIN #19

RESOURCES

Growing Seeds of Social Justice (activity)

Social Justice Resource Center: Biographies (meet activists for social justice and racial equity)


READ NEXT

A Kids Book about Racism by Jelani Memory

Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi

Race Cars by Jenny Devenny

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