Here is a lesson plan for elementary school students that discusses personal names, moving from one country to another, and adopting aspects of the new culture while maintaining cultural identity. I have chosen several books representing characters from different countries, for different ages levels, that tell about children that have struggled and succeeded with this assimilation. Many stories show why children have decided to keep or change their name for different reasons. These stories provoke discussion on the significance of our names and identities, the process of adapting to a new culture and language, and the challenges of making new friends.
I have been involved with the immigrant community in teaching, training, and translating for almost 20 years, and I believe that when we allow our children to understand the perspective of others, they will be compassionate and welcoming towards newcomers who might first appear “different.” After a brief summary of the books, I have included a list of discussion questions and writing prompts that ignite critical thinking skills, and allow students to put themselves in the shoes of others. Continue reading