Text copyright © 2019 by Rukhsanna Guidroz. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Dinara Mirtalipova. Images reproduced with permission of the publisher, Salaam Reads, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

For Elementary Readers

Leila in Saffron

When Leila visits her grandmother’s house for their weekly family dinner, she finds parts of herself and her heritage in the family, friends, and art around her.

Apply in the Classroom

What you see in the mirror doesn’t always reflect who you are. In Leila in Saffron, Leila is on the lookout for things to like about herself and finds what she’s looking for while spending time with her family. Work with your art teacher or local artist to help students reflect on who they are and create self-portraits. Read aloud Leila in Saffron and then invite students to take a look at themselves in a mirror. Have them write down all of the things that they like about themselves—inside and out. Let students experiment with a variety of mediums and create their self-portrait in one that feels most comfortable to them. Encourage students to embellish their portraits with images and phrases that express self-identity and their identities as readers. Celebrate their work with:

  • a gallery of student self-portraits at your school
  • an art reception featuring students talking about their portraits
  • a student read-aloud of books they feel reflect their identity.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

How would you describe Leila? Who and what are important to her? Why?

Does where you come from make you who you are?

How can you be proud of who you are?

How does Leila learn about herself? How can you learn about yourself?

How do you learn about people? How can you share yourself with others?

Related Teaching Resources

Discovering My Identity Lesson Plan from Teaching Tolerance

Fostering Identity Safety in Your Classroom from Edutopia

Me, Myself, and I: An Identity-Themed Common Core ELA Unit from Scholastic

Our Selves, Our Classroom, Our Families from the TeachingChannel

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