Middle Reader Lesson Plan
GUIDED ANTI-BIAS/ANTI-RACIST READING | GRADES 3+
This lesson is divided into 4 sections that are designed to follow along with the book Front Desk by Kelly Yang. Each section focuses on reading comprehension, critical thinking, and self-reflection based on the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards. There are discussion questions, reflection prompts, and activities to guide the student.
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 (GRADES 3-5) COVERED IN THIS LESSON
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 #10
I know that the way groups of people are treated today, and the way they have been treated in the past, is a part of what makes them who they are.
GUIDED READING LESSON PLAN
SUMMARY & NOTES
The first in a three-part series, The Witch Boy is a middle grade graphic novel from artist and author Molly Knox Ostertag. My daughter picked this book out for a few reasons – the beautiful illustrations, the topic of witches, and the possibility of exploring non-binary gender roles.
We’ve both been interested in witches for a while. As soon as I started homeschooling Vera, the first topic she chose to explore was witches. The magic, the power, the possibilities outside of traditional gender norms for women…they appealed to both of us, and we jumped in to explore what the history of women as witches had to offer.
The way the witch concept is explored in this book is simple yet powerful. The main character comes from a magic family; the men are expected to be shape-shifters who fight demons, while the women are expected to become witches (protectors, spell casters). What happens when Aster, identified as a male child in the book, is drawn to spells and is clearly naturally gifted in this way? And how does his friendship with Charlie help give him the power to be himself? All of this and more weave throughout this book of spirits, family, identity, and friendship.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS IDENTITY DOMAIN #3 & DIVERSITY DOMAIN #10
Within the first 8 pages of the book, the reader learns about the traditional gender roles within Aster’s magical family. What do we learn about how Aster feels about these roles?
Draw a sun for Aster. Label the rays with aspects of his identity that we see in the book. Which aspects are outside of the traditional gender roles and magic roles of his family?
Aster makes a new friend named Charlie. How does Charlie give Aster new perspective and also support around his identities?
What really happened to Mikasa? How did that family history impact the way the family had been thinking about gender and magic roles? How did their thinking change by the end of the book?
REFLECT IDENTITY DOMAIN #1
Think about your own identities. You might think about gender, race, and other identifying elements (talents, roles, etc.). Draw a sun with rays coming out, and put your name in the center. On each ray, write down one of your identities.
Witch Hunting from Teaching Tolerance (read)
Reframing Gender Helps Kids See Beyond Other Binaries from Teaching Tolerance (read)
Toxic Masculinity Learning Plan from Teaching Tolerance (read)
This video interview with author/illustrator Molly Ostertag. She talks about writing a book that is accessible to lots of people. She also talks about creating a symbolic language for the magic spells in the book (watch)
A personal symbol using these instructions (read and make)
Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill
Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee
The Hidden Witch by Molly Knox Ostertag
The Midwinter Witch by Molly Knox Ostertag