Nana Akua Goes to School

I love that this book highlights the range a diversity that we don't always see in America- cultural markings on a person's face. When a child is nervous about how her classmates might respond to her grandmother's West African tribal markings, her grandmother decides to take action in an important way- through education. Rather than speak to students about a different West African topic, she shares with them the history and beauty behind her family's cultural practices. Part of the challenge when it comes to diverse ways of knowing, is our own ignorance. This book models for children the value that comes from sincerely learning about one another with humility.


-Dena

Social Justice Activities:

  • In this text, Nana Akua provides for students answers to questions they were likely thinking but didn't ask. What do you do when you have questions about someone's cultural identity? What are respectful ways to ask?

  • Study the African continent and locate Ghana on the map. Dispel the myth many students have that Africa is a country.

  • Study the Adinkra Symbols and the Meanings. What do these symbols say about this tribal community and what they value? Which symbols are especially important to us in our classroom community?

Relevant Social Justice Standards:

Identity 3: Students will recognize that people’s multiple identities interact and create unique and complex individuals

Identity 4: Students will express pride, confidence and healthy self-esteem without denying the value and dignity of other people.

Identity 5: Students will recognize traits of the dominant culture, their home culture and other cultures and understand how they negotiate their own identity in multiple spaces.

Diversity 6: Students will express comfort with people who are both similar to and different from them and engage respectfully with all people.

Diversity 10. Students will examine diversity in social, cultural, political and historical contexts rather than in ways that are superficial or oversimplified.

Justice 14. Students will recognize that power and privilege influence relationships on interpersonal, intergroup and institutional levels and consider how they have been affected by those dynamics.

Reading Strategies:

Themes: There are so many themes to explore in this text- Belonging, Diversity, Ghana Tribal culture, family/community, self-knowledge/ancestry, appreciating diverse experiences.

Story Elements: plot, setting,

Problem/Solution: Analyze why Zura felt there was a problem and the solution Nana Akua provide. Notice how she used art and knowledge to help students learn more about her cultural practice.

Book Details:
  • Fiction, All Ages
  • Perspectives: African descent
  • Author's stated heritage: African American
  • Subject Integration: Art, Geography, Social Emotional Learning

Activities:


Book covers images are from publishers and in the public domain