“Where Are You From” by Yamile Saied Mendez is a beautiful story that you will love sharing with your students. Classmates continue to ask the narrator where she is from, and she persistently tells them she is from here. She turns to her abuelo for answers and her abuelo gives a beautiful response that will open your student's eyes and hearts.
The story gives affirmation to students that may feel as the narrator does, that they wonder where they are from. It gives us an understanding that while it is important to know where we are from, from a cultural perspective, it is also important to recognize the families that we come from and their love for us. The book is beautiful in its story and its illustrations. While many students can connect to the narrator's persistence in wondering where she is from, others will learn to understand her abuelo's replies.
Skills to teach with “Where Are You From?”:
- Character development
- Point of view
5 Favorite Activities for “Where Are You From?”
“Where Are You From” can be an amazing conversation starter for your students. The events in the story may be some that students have experienced or felt, some may have asked “where are you from?” themselves. Whether they can connect or are learning to understand, there are many great activities that you can use to accompany the book and promote acceptance and understanding.
Here are some of my favorite activities to do after reading the book.
1. Where are you from?
The narrator feels as though she does not belong and is persistently asked where she is from, and while she feels she is the same as her classmates, she turns to her abuelo that looks like her, like he doesn't belong. She wonders where she is from, just as her classmates ask her. And her abuelo gives her an insightful answer, from his heart.
The beginning of the book is a great opportunity to discuss the narrator's feelings and how she feels she does not belong. Students can begin to think about where they are from. Where we are from can be a place or the people we are with and it helps to shape us into who we are. Students can write about where they are from and how it has turned them into the person that they are.
2. Learning from experiences
Abuelo tells her all about where she is from, and gives insightful responses about where she is from. He tells her, “You are from hurricanes and dark storms,” which is a great opportunity to discuss how our experiences can help make us who we are. The good and the bad experiences help make us who we are, and whether they are hurricanes and dark storms or rainbows, the experiences that we go through in our lives shape us as people.
Students can write about how their experiences have made them who they are today.
3. Questions for your own family
The narrator insists on getting a straight answer from abuelo and he gives her the loving response that she “is from all of us.” She comes from the love of everyone that came before her.
Students can write down questions that they would ask a family member about where they are from. They can brainstorm and think of things that they would want to know, just as the narrator asked her abuelo.
4. “You come from all of us.”
As abuelo tells the narrator of her family, your students can describe their own family. This is a great way to get to know more about students and see the ways that they describe their loved ones.
5. Learning to accept and respect others
This book is such a great way to talk about acceptance. You can have students write about why it is important to honor and respect where others are from as well as ways they can respect where others come from, even if it is different than you.
I just love reading stories that students can truly relate to and connect with and I think “Where Are You From” is one that will leave a lasting impression on your kids. There are truly so many great lessons to learn as you read. The story is engaging and thought-provoking. The theme will have your students thinking long after you finish.
I hope you and your students love it!
You can grab a free one-page guide for using this book in your classroom here:
You can find more of my favorite read-aloud books HERE.
And read more about why I think reading aloud is so important HERE.
You might like this blog post about self-love.
Check out all of my favorite read-aloud books and grab free guides for reading them aloud HERE.
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