RESOURCES

Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thomkins-Bigelow

PICTURE BOOK READING GUIDE

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

READING GUIDE PDF

WELCOME

This is a reading guide designed to accompany Jamilah Thomkins-Bigelow’s picture book Your Name Is a Song. We recommend that grownups read the focus book and the reading guide content before reading with young readers. This guide will help you prepare your own questions for your young readers and choose vocabulary, history, and other related topics to integrate into your learning and discussion.


Lesson content was written by Nasteho Ahmed and was designed to start or deepen anti-racist and anti-bias conversations in families and other learning communities.


THEMES

IDENTITY, CULTURE, TRADITION, HISTORY


PRONOUNCING NAMES FROM THE BOOK

Please take time to watch this video from the author on name pronunciations from the book before you read.


NASTEHO’S NOTE

I was seven years old when I first came to the United States, and apart from my siblings, there were only three other Somali kids who went to the school I went to. Ever since first grade, people have been butchering my name and I'm almost 21 years old now. For most of my life, people could never get my name right. I just let people slide most of the time even though I don't like it. I don't even correct them anymore because it gets tiring. I know how difficult it can be as a young child, and that's why I was able to relate to this book.


By learning and knowing someone's name you can find the beauty and get to know their identity. If you know the name of someone, it will help you create more connections with that person, and they feel valuable and respected when you remember their name. Any time someone remembers my name or even pronounce it right on the first try, I know I do. Our names can be the key to who we are because sometimes people name their kids based on something special and important.


HOW WE DESIGN OUR READING GUIDES

This guided reading lesson is designed to be part of a larger life-long commitment to anti-racist reading 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 Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards (focused on Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action) serve as guides for our work.


LEARNING FOR JUSTICE STANDARDS

The Learning for Justice Standards and Domains referenced in this lesson are for Grades K-21. This book, however, can be used with a wide range of ages. Standards and Domains featured in this lesson are as follows:

  • RADICAL IMAGINATION: “Radical: forming the root; Imagination: the force that creates seeds of emergence”

  • IDENTITY.K-2.1: I know and like who I am and can talk about my family and myself and name some of my group identities.

  • DIVERSITY.K-2.6: I like being around people who are like me and different from me, and I can be friendly to everyone.

  • JUSTICE.K-2.14: I know that life is easier for some people and harder for others and the reasons for that are not always fair.

  • ACTION.K-2.20: I will join with classmates to make our classroom fair for everyone.

READ + DISCUSS QUESTIONS

BEFORE READING

  • Why is it important to know someone's name? IDENTITY.K-2.1

  • What do you think is going to make this book interesting? RADICAL IMAGINATION

  • What kind of characters do you think will be in the book? RADICAL IMAGINATION

WHILE READING

  • What do you think inspired Kora-Jalimuso mother to tell her that names are songs? DIVERSITY.K-2.6

  • What would you do if no one could pronounce your name on the first day of school? IDENTITY.K-2.1

  • Has anyone ever mispronounced or spelled your name wrong? How did that make you feel? JUSTICE DOMAIN #17

  • How are names like songs? What does it mean when Kora-Jalimuso’s mother says names come from the heart? JUSTICE.K-2.14

RESOURCES & ACTIVITIES

READING THE BOOK & LEARNING NAMES

  • CHECK IN: Open circle checking in with each other and then play a game.

  • GAME: Walking name game - Get in a circle, everyone will say their names once for introductions. Once the game starts you walk to one person across the circle and before you move you must say their name but before you get to that person they say another person’s name in the circle and the game goes on and if you can’t remember someone’s name ask before we play. You cannot call on the person next to you. This is a good way to learn people’s names.

  • CIRCLE TIME: Than read the book to the class and even have the kids sing along the names in the book

  • ART PROJECT: We would put the alphabet letters in the hat and everytime the kids pick a letter they can write whose name starts with that letter and pin the letters together.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

READ NEXT

  • Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thmopkins-Bigelow

  • Our Favorite Day of the Year by A. E. Ali

  • I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes

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