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The Arabic Quilt [curriculum]


The Arabic Quilt follows Kanzi, a young Egyptian-American girl, as she starts 3rd grade at a new school. Kanzi experiences teasing based on xenophobic ideas about her language and identity. She processes this harmful experience by drawing strength from her family and her sense of self. In this case, a quilt her teita in Egypt made for her, serves to wrap her in love. When Kanzi’s teacher asks her if she wants to bring her quilt to class, her classmates begin learning and appreciating the similarities and differences that they all have.

This story highlights the way racism and xenophobia can be experienced in school by children at the hands of their peers. It also shows the way that exploring identity through art and connection can help heal and teach.


migration, immigration, school, belonging, xenophobia, anti-racist practice, apology, repair, co-conspiracy, creativity, family, teaching, Egyptian identity, back to school


Our curriculum and ongoing practices are rooted in emergent strategy: “the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions.” The interactions we have with books, among reading partners, inside classrooms, and within reading communities are relatively simple. What is cultivated from those interactions is something much more complex – lifelong, daily abolitionist, decolonizing, heart/body-centered, and anti-racist practices. These include learning how to make the ground more fertile for ongoing identity, healing, discussion, action, and imagination practices in ourselves and with each other.

This reading guide was written by Zapoura Newton-Calvert and was designed to accompany Aya Khalil and Anait Semirdzhyan’s picture bookThe Arabic Quilt. Reading Is Resistance sees reading as an opportunity to seed deeper learning, conversation, and possibilities for action around racial justice and liberation in our communities.



THE CURRICULUM KIT: we'll send you the book, sticky note conversation starters, and our social justice curriculum

THE DIGITAL DOWNLOAD: download the social justice curriculum now


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